Weeks: DeLaet leaves impression at first Presidents Cup

Bob Weeks,
10/6/2013 11:10:47 PM
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He wasn't able to lead the International team to a victory, but Graham DeLaet leaves his first Presidents Cup having gained a lot of respect and plenty of praise.

That's especially true after winding up his Sunday in dramatic fashion by holing his final shots on 18 in both his matches.

It's not as if Canadians weren't aware of DeLaet's talent; after all, he's been the top Canuck for a few years now. You knew he'd become mainstream in his home country when you stopped hearing "De-Lay."

Hard-core golf fans elsewhere have also known about his remarkable ball-striking and accuracy off the tee, evident just by looking at his name at the top of so many statistical categories. They also watched as he performed well in the FedEx Cup playoffs, his beard lengthening each week.

But it's fair to say that this event will be DeLaet's coming out party to the rest of the golf world. TV announcers have been singing his praises all week with Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee calling him the best ball-striker in the world right now. Johnny Miller was positively gushing at his talents and even Jack Nicklaus gave a nod to the Canadian.

"I thought he played great," said the Golden Bear. "I talked to him on the first tee today and I said to him, 'Graham, the way you've played this week, I think this will mean an awful lot to your career.'"

He's also gained the respect of both captains here this week.

"He's fun to watch," said Fred Couples. "He hits it a long way, he putts well. You know, he's just a very good player."

"He's a hell of a player," said Nick Price. "I think Canada has a lot to look forward to the next 10 or 12 years or so, watching him play, because he'd definitely major championship material."

The enthusiasm he displayed all week was positively effervescent. On Thursday when his partner Jason Day rolled in a winning putt, DeLaet almost took Day's arm off with the high five.

When his putt dropped on Sunday morning in the match against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley he reacted as if he'd just scored in overtime to win the Stanley Cup.

He managed to do it again in his singles match against Jordan Spieth, this time holing it from the bunker to win his match 1-up.

"I executed them both well, but there's some luck involved as well," he admitted. "I mean, it's super exciting to finish like that; to win the match here and then to halve the match this morning, it makes it even better."

In addition to all the attention, it's clear to see DeLaet gained a bushel full of confidence playing this Presidents Cup. Not that he was short on self-belief, but matching games with the best Americans and being one of the top point producers on the International team can only help when he returns to action on the PGA Tour in a few weeks in Las Vegas.

"I definitely believe that deep inside, I feel a little more confidence in myself now," admitted DeLaet. "These are the best players in the world and this American team is just loaded with talent. To be able to come in here and play well against them means a lot."

While the individual performance was tremendous, DeLaet admitted to disappointment at not being able to help his team break the long drought in the competition. Despite a record of 3-1-1 for the Canadian, once again, the Internationals were humbled by the Yanks, losing 18.5 to 15.5.

"That's the thing. We're here as a team to try and win this thing as a team and it's great to play well, but it's going to be tough going into that locker room and seeing all those guys," said DeLaet. "I mean, I'm sure we'll have a couple of drinks tonight and just celebrate the friendships and everything that we've made."

It's quite clear that when DeLaet leaves that locker room and the Presidents Cup and Muirfield Village, he'll do so as a different player. Things won't be the same any more. This is a bona fide star on the rise.

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