Sooner or later, you just know Graham DeLaet
is going to get a few breaks, make one or two extra putts and have a week where he finally gets his win.
Once again, DeLaet finished tied for second at a PGA Tour stop on the weekend, this time at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The pride of Weyburn, Sask., ended up a shot back of Kevin Stadler
as the 'Smallrus' managed to break through for his first victory.
It should be noted that it took Stadler 239 starts to get his first victory, so there's never a sure thing in this game. As well as DeLaet's playing, he may never win a tournament. Or he might win in his next start. That's the way golf is - no matter how well you play, there's a chance someone else might be just one stroke better.
DeLaet's finish in Phoenix - where he and wife Ruby recently relocated - earned him $545,600, moving him to ninth on the PGA Tour's money list with $1.3 million. He's now ranked 26th on the Official World Golf Ranking. He's also finished in the Top 10 in his last five starts.
The bearded wonder climbed into contention on Saturday with a strong 65. On Sunday, he came out to the range and promptly tweaked his back on the first shot of his warm-up. Some special treatment from trainer Dr. Craig Davies of Toronto allowed him to tee it up at the appropriate time.
"We did a little extra work this morning," DeLaet said. "My routine before the round was a little bit different, but I took some Advil that kicked in a little bit, and I was feeling pretty good for most of the day."
That became obvious early on as he went out and made birdies on five of his first 13 holes. As others on the leaderboard began to struggle, DeLaet suddenly was in contention – until he hit the 15th, where he drove his tee shot into the water on the left side of the hole.
"I knew I'd just have to make a lot of birdies," he stated. "After my tee shot on 15 I thought my chances were probably gone."
But birdies on 17 and 18 put him in the clubhouse with the lead.
"I knew that I needed probably to birdie the last two," said DeLaet. "That back pin on 17 is really, really tough, and I hit what I thought was a pretty good shot there, but I still had 12, 15 feet. To birdie the last, I knew that I had - was trying to hole it, but, you know, birdie is second best."
That late run, by the way, was buoyed by the energy from the crowd, which DeLaet made sure to thank.
"Obviously there are tons of people there," he stated. "There are so many Canadians out here following me. Almost felt like a Canadian Open today. Thanks to all of them for being out there."
DeLaet will take this week off before heading to Los Angeles for the Northern Trust Open where he'll continue his torrid pace to the 2013-14 season.