Graham DeLaet’s bid to become the first Canadian to win the RBC Open in 60 years fell short, but he was the top-ranking Canadian for the tournament.
He was in contention after he and Jim Furyk tied the course record with 63s in the second round on Friday, but then DeLaet went 70 and 68 in the last two rounds to finish at 10-under 270.
DeLaet took the low Canadian honour by one stroke over Brad Fritsch of Ottawa, who closed with a 54 to end up at nine-under. “I fell a little short, but it was fun. There were so many people cheering for me.”
“Now I know how Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson) and those guys feel all the time, because it was pretty neat,” DeLaet added, regarding the amount of fan support. “Coming down 18 was a special moment.”
The RBC Open trophy did go to a player with connections, and a history, in Canada. Tournament champion Tim Clark, whose wife is Canadian, had won his first professional tournament at the New Brunswick Open on the Canadian Tour in 1998 and followed a week later with a win at the CPGA Championship.
Clark overtook Jim Furyk, who had the lead before the third round, after shooting a five-under-par 65 to finish at 17-under-par 263.
For Furyk, it was a frustrating defeat, as he has now lost seven tournaments in a row in which he led after 54 holes.
He went into the final round with a three-stroke cushion, but then shot 69 to come second and 16-under 264.
After 19 events played so far in the PGA Tour, DeLaet is 26th in the FedExCup, and the top ranked Canadian golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings. He made $183,825 at the RBC Open, and has a total earnings of over $2.2 million.
Blair Pateman and his daughter Stephanie were at the Royal Montreal Golf Club to take in the RBC Open. This was the sixth Canadian Open that the two golf fans have attended in person.
“It certainly was exciting to be there, and we followed Graham’s every shot,” said Blair.
During round one of the tournament, DeLaet started on the front nine, where he shot back-to-back bogeys on holes three and four, then a birdie on hole eight. Then during the back nine, he shot back-to-back birdies on holes 11 and 12, a birdie on hole 14, and a bogey on hole 18.
He finished the round at 69, one under par.
In round two, where DeLaet tied the course record, he started on the back nine where he shot back-to-back birdies on holes 11 and 12. He then shot back-to-back birdies again on holes 14 and 15, then a birdie on hole 17 and a bogey on hole 18.
Then during the back nine, DeLaet shot a birdie on hole one, a bogey on hole four, a birdie on hole six, and back-to-back birdies on holes eight and nine. His score was 63, seven-under-par.
For the first two rounds, DeLaet was golfing with Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk, who are ranked third and fifth consecutively on the FedExCup. All three golfers had strong first rounds.
“It was very exciting to watch these three golfers compete together,” said Pateman. The golfers seemed to feed off the success of one another, and all three stayed on top of their game during the first two rounds.
DeLaet himself was very happy with his putting performance during the first two rounds. He had taken time with his putting coach, and together they changed the way he was putting the ball. “I aimed at a spot in front of the golf ball, instead of towards the hole, and it helped to see the lines.”
After two rounds, DeLaet was in third, and safe from being cut. Back on the course for round three, he started on the front nine where he hit a bogey on hole two, a birdie in hole six and a bogey on hole nine.
Then during the back nine, he shot an eagle on hole 12, a birdie on hole 14, a bogey on hole 15 and a bogey on hole 18. “I wanted to score good on hole 18 pretty bad, but then played it too aggressive,” said DeLaet.
“It is always hard to follow up a 63 with another great round,” observed Pateman. “He did play fairly well, but the putts were not falling the way he wanted. Certainly, I think the thing that was most disappointing for Graham about the third round was the bogey on the 18th hole.”
Pateman noted that the gallery was the most filled with fans watching Graham during the third round. “This is our sixth year attending the Canadian Open, and the amount of people there for Saturday was the most we have ever seen for a gallery (at a Canadian event).”
For the last and final round, DeLaet started on the front nine, where he shot a bogey on hole five, a birdie on hole six and then shot another bogey on hole seven. Then during the back nine, he shot birdies on holes 12, 14 and 16. His score for the round was 68, two-under-par.
“He finished really close (to winning), but once again the putts were just not falling for him,” said Pateman.
As for the other Canadians who appeared at the tournament, Taylor Pendrith capped a strong first experience with a 69 to finish as the low amateur at three-under. David Hearn and Adam Hadwin both finished at two-under. Mike Weir finished at two-over-par.
This week, DeLaet heads to Ohio for the World Golf Championships: Bridgestone Invitational, which will run from Thursday, July 31 to Sunday, Aug. 3. This is a big event that defines the final playoff picture for the PGA Tour, where only the top 125 qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, with the top 100 after the first event eligible for the Deutsche Bank.