It was another stellar tournament for Graham DeLaet at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, after he tied second place for the second straight week.
“I have been playing well for the last few months,” said DeLaet on a PGA Tour interview. “I really feel like I worked super hard in the offseason. It’s nice to see it paying off.”
DeLaet has played five events in the 2014 PGA Tour season and has finished in the top 10 four times. He was runner-up in the past two weeks, at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Many PGA Tour experts predict that a 2014 win will be inevitable for DeLaet. According to a Tour story on DeLaet, the former Weyburn golfer has flagged the big-time shots and has holed the putts that one doesn’t see from many non-winners.
For his efforts of tying second, DeLaet earned $545,600. His total earnings are now $1,361,267 and he is 11th in the FedExCup.
On the Official World Golf Rankings, DeLaet is 26th overall, and is ranked as the top Canadian golfer. He jumped eight spots since last week, when he was ranked 36th.
Prior to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, DeLaet was ranked second as an expert pick, and was ranked third in the power rankings.
During round one at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, DeLaet opened on the back nine, where he had back-to-back birdies on holes 15 and 16. Then on the front nine, he hit his only bogey for the round on hole one, shot a birdie on hole two and then back-to-back birdies on holes eight and nine.
DeLaet finished with a 67 for round one, four-under-par. His driving accuracy was 50 per cent, the greens in regulation was 77.78 per cent, and his average driving distance was 350.6 yards.
The second round was the most difficult for DeLaet, as he finished at 72, one-over-par. He started on the front nine, staying on par for most of the holes, except for one bogey on the fifth.
He ran into trouble on the back nine, hitting three back-to-back bogeys on holes 10, 11 and 12.
But then he was able to improve back to even par with back-to-back birdies on holes 14 and 15, and a birdie on hole 17.
After two rounds the final cut was set at one-under-par. With a three-under-par after two rounds, DeLaet advanced to the third and fourth rounds of the tourney.
DeLaet kept strong during both the third and fourth rounds, scoring a six-under-par 65 for both the final rounds.
He started on the back nine for round three, scoring a birdie on hole 12, another on hole 15 and then a third on hole 17. DeLaet had a successful start to the front nine, shooting back-to-back birdies on holes one and two, then notching an eagle on hole three. His score stayed at seven-under-par until he hit a bogey on hole nine.
Then during the fourth and final round, DeLaet started on the front nine and scored back-to-back birdies on holes three and four. He stayed on par for the rest of the front nine.
For the back nine of the fourth round, DeLaet shot a birdie on hole 10, back-to-back birdies on holes 12 and 13, then a bogey on hole 15. He ended the round with back-to-back birdies on holes 17 and 18. DeLaet was in the clubhouse when Kevin Stadler, the 33-year-old son of major champion Craig “The Walrus” Stadler, closed with a three-under 68 for a one-stroke victory at the event.
They are the ninth father-son combination to win on PGA Tour and the first since Bill Haas won in 2010 to join his father Jay. The victory also earns Stadler an invitation to the Masters, where he will get to play alongside his dad, who won the tournament in 1982. DeLaet has already earned his Masters invitation.
The other second-place golfer was Bubba Watson, who was tied with Stadler as the two played the final hole. Watson hit his wedge from 120 yards too hard and the ball bounded off the back of the green. He chipped to five feet but underestimated the break on his putt and it never came close to going in.
Last year, DeLaet ended the 2013 PGA Tour with some of his best finishes of his career. He had tied second at The Barclays and placed third at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He also competed with the International Team with his first ever President’s Cup, where he went 2-1-1- with Jason Day.
“That’s the most intense pressure I ever dreamt about,” DeLaet said of the President’s Cup. “That’s the kind of stuff you draw on.”
DeLaet used the memory of the President’s Cup to inspire him in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “When I was coming down 17 and 18, you know, I was kind of thinking back, like I know that I can do it under the pressure.”
There are no tournaments for DeLaet this week, but he returns to the PGA Tour for the Northern Trust Open, which runs from Feb. 13 to 16. Then he has the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play championship on Feb. 19 to 23.
There’s so much to come from DeLaet, not only in the next few weeks, but the coming years. His talent seems endless and his desire strong. Any local fan of DeLaet knows how exciting it is to watch him progress on the PGA Tour.