You couldn't actually see any steam coming from Graham DeLaet's ears, but figuratively speaking, it's likely he was blowing like a tea kettle as he walked back around the large pond stuck in the middle of the seventh hole.
DeLaet was making that trip after dunking his ball in the water and then getting a questionable ruling from an overzealous and possibly optically challenged rules official.
He ended up making a double-bogey seven which seemed to derail his attempt to move up the leaderboard at the PGA Championship. But the Weyburn, Sask., native followed that up by making birdie on six of his next nine holes for a round of 68 to keep himself within striking distance of the lead.
“It was a good day. I escaped the disaster that could have been,” he said.
DeLaet's round didn't get out to a great start. He made sloppy bogeys on the second and fifth holes before arriving at the seventh. After hitting a decent drive, he elected to go for the green with his second shot. The ball started left and sliced towards the green but came up short and in the water. Before it went for a plunge, it seemed to cross the hazard line on the far side of the water and DeLaet went to drop his ball about 60 yards from the green at the spot where he saw it cross.
An official objected and a discussion ensued following which DeLaet started the long walk back around the pond to play his fourth shot.
DeLaet took the high road and didn't say much about the situation but his tight expression indicated clearly he wasn't too happy.
“Yeah, there was definitely a question about it,” he said, refusing to elaborate any further.
However playing partner Steve Stricker offered up his view of the situation.
“Graham was going to drop and the official came running over and said no, no, no. There was no way he was going to let him play from that spot,” said the former Canadian Tour player. “At the end of the day, only Graham knows whether it crossed the line, but he did the right thing. You don't want to be known as the guy who took a [questionable] drop.”
The long walk back took so long that the twosome behind – Phil Mickelson and Bernd Wiesberger – played their shots to the green before DeLaet did. After he finally put the ball in the cup, he put a seven down on the card.
That might have been the end of his tournament, but he suddenly caught fire, making birdies on his next four holes. He added a couple more coming in and only a stubbed wedge on the final hole prevented him from closing with another one.
Now he finds himself in a large pack of golfers chasing Rory McIlroy knowing that he still has an outside chance.
“I think it's going to be exciting,” he stated. “I'm going to definitely have to get off to a better start, but I think if I can get three or four under through the first six or seven holes, anything can happen. I think it's going to take a low one tomorrow but I think it's definitely a possibility.”
DeLaet does have the ability to make birdies in bunches, as evidenced by yesterday's late flurry. So posting a 63 is not out of the question. When asked if he thought he could win the tournament, he replied positively.
“It would be great to lift up that big trophy,” he said with a wide smile.