Pro golfer Graham DeLaet ‘never been through’ anxiety felt in Memorial Tournament

Graham DeLaet, of Canada, hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Palm Harbor, Fla.
Graham DeLaet, of Canada, hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Palm Harbor, Fla. AP Photo/Brian Blanco

Graham DeLaet still isn’t sure where it came from or how it happened.

But the incredible anxiety the 34-year-old Canadian golfer felt chipping and pitching while preparing for the Memorial Tournament in the first week of June was brand new for the seven-year PGA Tour veteran.

“A lot of fear standing over chips shots for whatever reason,” DeLaet told Global News in an exclusive interview. “I mean it’s something I’ve never really been through in my entire career.”

DeLaet withdrew from the event, hosted by World Golf Hall-of-Famer Jack Nicklaus, and hasn’t played on tour since.

“I mean I was chipping so poorly, there was no way I could have competed in a tour event. I just needed to take a break and regroup,” DeLaet said. “I’ve been playing golf since I was 12 years old and this is kind of a strange thing, but I’m working through it right now.”

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READ MORE: Pro golfer Graham DeLaet in Calgary to launch his Prairie Baard craft beer

DeLaet plans to return to the tour next week (June 30 to July 3) at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada.

That will kick off a busy stretch where he intends to play for a month straight unless he’s able to qualify for the Open Championship, which is played at Royal Troon GC in mid-July.

“It’s a little different when you’re practicing and playing with your buddies than it is in a tournament situation but I’m trending in the right direction here,” DeLaet said.

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of Graham DeLaet

DeLaet, who is from Weyburn, Sask., has been working with a sports psychologist over the last couple of weeks on different techniques to quiet his mind and “start thinking properly.” He admits he won’t know for sure if he’s completely over his short game troubles until he returns to competition and feels the pressure of a PGA Tour event.

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“I’m getting better all the time and I know that it might just take one good shot under pressure to know that it’s in there and kind of change that confidence level,” DeLaet said.

“The rest of my game has been really, really good and I’m optimistic that I’m going to turn it around.”

In 16 events so far this season, DeLaet has two Top 10 finishes and sits 101st in the FedExCup standings. He has seen a dip in his short game stats and is currently ranked 177th on the PGA Tour in scrambling, which is down from 133rd last season.

Back to Saskatchewan

DeLaet returned to his home province this past week to spend time with family and just “decompress a little.”

He will also be in Saskatoon Monday to help kick off the 2016 SIGA Dakota Dunes Open on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada. The event is now a partnership with the Graham and Ruby DeLaet Foundation.

The DeLaets will host their annual charity event, The Graham Slam, which includes a celebrity exhibition golf match, cocktail reception and concert.

READ MORE: Theo Fleury teeing up for the Graham Slam at Dakota Dunes

All funds raised this year are going to buy a pediatric ambulance for the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan.

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On Brooke Henderson’s major win

Much like most of Canada, DeLaet was also glued to the television last Sunday (June 12) watching Brooke Henderson in the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Henderson defeated top-ranked Lydio Ko in a playoff to win her first career major championship.

“The shots she was hitting under that kind of pressure, I mean she looked like a 20-year veteran, it was pretty amazing, it really was,” said DeLaet.

DeLaet likened Henderson’s win to Mike Weir’s breakthrough in the 2003 Masters. Henderson joined Weir and Sandra Post (1968) as the only Canadians to ever win a major golf championship.

READ MORE: DeLaet begins a new routine as both professional golfer and father

“I think it’s going to change the entire outlook of how Canadian women come up  in the system knowing that it’s possible to play at that level and win at that level,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a trend of young girls coming out now because of what Brooke has done.”

“Without question she has something special. Kind of like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlory. They are generational-type players, they come around and you can’t really explain how they’re so good .”


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