TSN's Bob Weeks takes a look at two rising Canadian stars on the PGA Tour, including David Hearn and Graham DeLaet.
In 2012, David Hearn showed he has the consistency to make him a successful golfer at the top level and for 2013, he wants to improve on that.
He spent a busy off-season working hard to shore up the parts of his game he believes he'll need to push him further up the money list from the 95th spot he ended up in a year ago. Specifically, the 33-year-old, Brantford, Ont., native focused on his wedge play. Not the longest hitter on tour – he averaged 285 yards off the tee – the wedge will be a key tool in his quiver if he wants to score well.
Hearn will continue to use the long putter that served him well in the past year, despite the proposed rule change that may take the long wands out of play.
"I played my way on to the Tour with a regular length putter so it's not like I can't go back," he told me last fall.
Hearn hopes to jump out to a faster start than a year ago. After posting a T10 at the SONY, he missed the cut in six of his next nine events. He turned that around, missing the weekend just three times in the next 18 starts.
With more experience under his belt and some hard work in the off-season, I expect Hearn to improve on his 2012 year and challenge for his first win.
Graham Delaet bounced back from back surgery in 2011 to finish as the top Canadian in 2012, earning more than $1 million. Perhaps more important, he put himself in the hunt to win his first Tour stop, playing in the final group on Sunday at New Orleans. While he didn't win, being near the top of the leaderboard over the final few holes was great experience, one he's hoping to get more of in 2013.
And there's no reason to believe that DeLaet won't do just that. Among the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, the Weyburn, Sask., native will always live and die by his putter, but he's got a power game tailored to this era of golf. When he's on, he can be very, very good, evidenced by his 29 sub-70 rounds last year.
In the off-season, DeLaet spent a lot of time in the gym, working on preparing his body for the coming season. Once you've got a bad back, you've always got one and the defence against that is to be in the best shape possible.
Last year, DeLaet burst from the blocks, firing a 63 in the first round of the SONY to lead the event. Look for him to play well in the early going of this season as well and to play a consistent year.
I also believe that DeLaet has the most upside of any Canadian golfer right now and it will be a bigger surprise if he doesn't win this year than if he does.