Graham DeLaet: Reenergized for life changes and the start of the new season

Graham DeLaet plays his shot from the tenth tee during round two of the RBC Canadian Open on July 24, 2015 at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario. DeLaet dropped out of the tournament due to a thumb injury. Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Regularly on Canadian golf stars Graham DeLaet and Adam Hadwin take readers behind the scenes of the PGA Tour, providing insights, perceptions and observations as they battle at the game’s biggest tournaments.

Sometimes you need some time away from tournament golf. And for me, the timing has been good, to be honest.

For a start, I’m now a father, with my wife Ruby delivering twins, Roscoe and Lyla, just after I got home from the Sanderson Farms Championship. It is a huge change for us, but we were as ready as we could be. We didn’t really know what to expect because parenthood is new to us. But everything was ready for our little twosome—we’ve even bought a minivan.

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How that effects next year isn’t quite clear yet. It is up in the air, but I’m planning on playing Hawaii. My mom is coming down for while and she and Ruby are going to drive to Palm Springs for the Career Builder Challenge. After that we’ll head home and then I’ll go to Torrey Pines, which is a short flight from home. So I’ll see Ruby and the kids three of the first five weeks of the season next year, and I think it’ll be a good transition to how life with a family will play on tour.

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There are plenty of players who travel with their kids, and I’ve spoken to a lot of them. You need a system, and we’ll figure it out. I want the family to be out with me as much as possible. I know it is hard on players when their kids hit school age and can’t travel with them. I see those players fly across the country to spend a day with their kids before getting back on a plane. So I want to spend as much time with them as I can.

That said, the time I had away from golf heading into the new season really helped. In all honesty, before the new season started, I’d only played one event from the Open Championship, other than the RBC Canadian Open, which I unfortunately didn’t get to finish. The downtime was really good for my physical health. It was a blessing in disguise to not play well at the Barclays because I was able to get healthy. Right now I feel as good as I have in more than a year. I attribute that to not playing a lot of golf, so that’s the one positive I’d take away.

My game feels sharp—I even shot an unofficial record at Whisper Rock recently, carding a 61. When I was recovering from my injuries I tried to take it easy. I played a couple of times a week with some friends, but I wasn’t practicing or grinding. Instead there was a lot of physio and I was in the gym a lot. I was trying to relax and heal.

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That’s not to say I didn’t play—it just wasn’t that I was grinding. I’ve been out two or three times a week in my off weeks, playing with my buddies. I don’t get to play casual golf and given how much I’m on the road, you don’t get to see friends all the time, so that gave me an opportunity to do both. I love playing golf though—probably the only reason I don’t play every day is because of my health.

I’m never really stressing about my game when I’m playing with friends, but I often need a couple of bucks on the game to keep my focus. Sometimes we have other bets—the loser, for example, has to wear a University of Idaho sweater for the game on Sunday. Losing those kinds of bets hurt more than losing a few dollars, I’ll tell you.

When I did come back I felt refreshed and played very well at Open. I was in a good spot on the final day, but early in the round I lipped out a couple. Maybe I started pressing a little bit and then it snowballed. That said, it was good to be back in the mix. That’s where I expect to be a few times a year.

I know there are going to be good weeks and bad weeks, but on the good weeks you’re just hoping for some breaks. No one plays great every week, but if I’m in the mix once every four or five weeks, I’d be happy. You have to play well to finish in the Top 20 out here, and I think some people don’t understand that.

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To finish Top 15 on this tour is really good golf. And difference between finishing 7th and 15th can be a couple of shots—a holed out bunker shot, or a long putt. You get used to it though. I’ve been on both ends of it, so you just pack up your bag and move onto the next tournament. It is part of my job and as a professional you come to understand that.

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