If there were any doubts that Graham DeLaet is ready to win on the PGA Tour, they were dismissed on Sunday. DeLaet didn't win the Travelers Championship but he showed that his game is at the point where a win seems a question of when, not if.
While the Canadian was pleased with his overall performance, there was some disappointment and frustration too.
"I played well all week and overall, it's good," said DeLaet, not long after stepping off the golf course. "But I definitely felt that I let this one slip away. I know I could have won the golf tournament."
That's DeLaet through and through. That's why he's becoming such a tremendous player. Even though he posted the best finish of his career and picked up a cheque for $414,800, he was mad that he let a golden opportunity get away. It's all about winning for him, just as it should be. He's hungry to get a victory. And then you know he'd be just as hungry to get another one.
DeLaet's one-under 69 at the TPC River Highlands led him to his career-best finish, a third behind winner Ken Duke and his playoff combatant Chris Stroud.
It also pushed his season's earnings to a career best $1,348,387 (US) and moved him to 30th on the FedEx Cup list. He's also the first Canadian since October 2010 to get inside the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Those are great marks, to be sure, but DeLaet would trade them all for a win. There were times on Sunday when it appeared the native of Weyburn, Sask., might break through. It was the third time in his PGA Tour career that he'd played in the last group on the final round. The previous two times he'd finished down the leaderboard. This time, however, he remained in the chase until the final few holes.
"I felt super calm all day," he said. "I think I was more nervous standing on the first tee on Thursday.
"I hit a perfect tee shot on one and blocked everything out really well. There was a lot of stuff going on there."
After pars on the first three holes, DeLaet noticed a scoreboard on the fourth hole and was surprised to see he had the solo lead at that point. He was sure that someone was going to post a few birdies and make a run. But the wind and tough pin placements seemed to be the equalizer.
"I didn't play my best golf but I kind of scrapped it out," he stated.
Coming down the final four holes, DeLaet was in good shape, having made a birdie on 12 to tie for the lead. But on 15, after hitting his tee shot just over the green on the par 4, he wasn't able to make birdie, and on 16, a par 3, his tee shot came up short of the green and a poor chip led to a bogey.
"On 15, I should have backed off that putt," he said. "I felt a gust come up and I'm not sure if it blew my blade open or if it knocked the ball off line but that was a straight putt.
"And on 16, it was the wind again. I had the exact same yardage as I did on 14 and it came up about 15 yards short.
"If I get up and down on one of those, I'm in the playoff. If I do it on both, I win," he reflected, with obvious frustration in his voice.
Aside from the win, DeLaet was also disappointed at losing out on points in the race for the International Team in the Presidents Cup. It's one of his main goals for this year and he desperately wants to move up that list to be joining the world side at Memorial.
He may get that chance this week at the AT&T, being played at Congressional outside Washington, D.C. That's a course DeLaet feels suits his game about as well as any on the PGA Tour.
Before that, however, he was planning to celebrate his play this week the good, old Canadian way . . . with a couple of beers in the hotel lobby bar.
"Even though today was disappointing," he offered, "there are way more positives out of this than negatives."
NOTES: DeLaet made nine birdies on the weekend adding up to a $9,000 donation to the Alberta flood relief. That was matched by PGA Tour Canada and ATB Financial.