After two recent missed cuts Canada’s Graham DeLaet has returned to the form that saw him finish inside the top 20 at three events in a row in February on the PGA TOUR.
Through two rounds of the RBC Heritage Classic the thirty-five-year-old from Weyburn, Saskatchewan co-holds the lead at -10. He shares that honour with past winner in Hilton Head, and former World #1, Luke Donald.
Past appearances at this tournament have been a love/hate type thing for the Canadian. He loves the golf course, but he has not turned in very good results.
So far, he is on a much better path, and he credits the much improved play, in part, to his last appearance here in South Carolina.
“Last year gave me a little bit of confidence. I finished 15th or something like that (he tied for 14th), first time I finished inside the top-50 here. And my love and enjoyment of playing this golf course turned into maybe I could play well here. And I think that was a little bit of the confidence I needed. Obviously I’m playing well this week, so that helps. I really do love playing Harbour Town, it’s such a cool place. It’s a great course.”
Being a very tight golf course, DeLaet has mastered the Harbour Town Golf Links with precise play during his rounds of 65 and 67. He is leading the field in greens in regulation (he has missed just five in two days) and then capitalized in a way he has not done so in the past – he’s holing putts.
He is third in strokes-gained on the tiny Harbour Town greens this week. It’s an area of his game that has improved dramatically this year, a point he confirmed on Thursday after his opening round.
“I’ve been putting really well. Actually I went to Peter Kostis. I told him I was coming here. He asked me to buy him a nice bottle of wine and he gave me his little putting machine he invented, his Putting Professor. It’s changed my stroke. It’s given me a lot more confidence. I’m seeing a lot more putts go in. It’s making golf a lot more fun.”
And the final piece of the puzzle that DeLaet believes will help him get that much closer to earning his first PGA TOUR win this weekend? It’s a mental one.
“Patience, I think, is the biggest thing. Liken today I was 1-over through 3. It’s so early in the week still, it’s Friday. But I knew that I could still shoot a good rounds of golf. And in the past I’ve gotten off to a bad start or things don’t go the way I want early in the round and I start pushing instead of just waiting. And when you’re playing well you’re going to have lots of chances. And holing those putts when you have the chance and hitting the right shot at the right time. That’s the main thing for me. Stay in the present and just be patient.”
DeLaet’s fellow Canadians also had a good Friday on, well, Good Friday. Nick Taylor, Adam Hadwin, and David Hearn all made the thirty-six hole cut.
Taylor, on his 28th birthday, moved up 30 places in round 2 (69-66) and is in a share of 5th headed into the weekend.
Hadwin, a recent winner at the Valspar Championship, jumped up a massive 56 spots with his 66 on Friday. At 137 (71-66) he is tied for 16th.
Hearn has been steady. At 70-70 (-2) he slipped into the weekend with a piece of 47th place.