WATCH: Shaw’s newest golf ambassador Montrealer Beon Yeong Lee is excited to tee it up in front of the hometown crowd at Royal Montreal in the RBC Canadian Open.
MONTREAL – Graham DeLaet recalls exactly how hard it was when he was a struggling player in golf’s minor leagues.
The PGA Tour star is now one of the biggest names in the sport, but in 2009 he was just another hopeful playing on the Canadian Tour, which is now the PGA Tour Canada. He thought he had backing from friends in Boise, Idaho, where he played college golf, but that fell through as he tried to develop as a professional golfer.
“It is easy for people to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll give you money when you turn pro,’ when you haven’t asked them yet,” he said. “But then you tell them you need it and there’s lots of reasons why they don’t have it. Money suddenly gets tight.”
DeLaet would actually win in 2008, a victory that helped propel him to the PGA Tour. But he recognizes how important it is for companies to support and foster Canada’s young golf talent.
DeLaet’s comments come as Shaw Communications, the parent company of Global News, announced two additions to its “ambassadors” program, bringing Burlington’s Michael Gligic and Montreal’s Beon Yeong Lee on alongside B.C.’s Adam Hadwin. DeLaet is also an ambassador, joining the program earlier this year.
“Supporting Michael and Beon represents Shaw’s desire to help give rising Canadian golf talent the opportunity to grow and develop their game even further,” said Brad Shaw, chief executive of Shaw Communications Inc. “We are proud to support them as they pursue their goals and hope to help inspire thousands of kids dreaming of following in their footsteps.”
Both golfers will sport the Shaw logo during this week’s RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal Golf Club in Île Bizard, Quebec.
For Gligic, 24, playing in his second Canadian Open is far more comfortable than his first, two years ago in Ancaster, Ont. Gligic secured his spot at the RBC Canadian Open by winning a regional qualifying event at his home course of Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ont.
“I was really nervous when I played my first Canadian Open,” he said. “There was so much going on, so many distractions. I think this week it’ll be more like playing a regular PGA Tour Canada event.”
From Montreal, Lee earned his place at the 2014 RBC Canadian Open by winning the regional qualifying tournament at Elm Ridge Country Club in Île Bizard, and most recently finished eighth at The Players Cup at Pine Ridge Golf Club in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The 2014 RBC Canadian Open marks Lee’s second trip to the tournament, having qualified in 2010.
DeLaet said having the backing to pursue his dream made his goal of playing on the PGA Tour much easier. His win in Montreal on the Canadian Tour earned him a spot on the World Cup team alongside fellow Canadian Wes Heffernan. A year later he made it through PGA Tour Qualifying School, starting his rookie year on the PGA Tour in 2010.
“I still remember those days—always,” DeLaet said.
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