It was a warm reception befitting a champion as Graham DeLaet walked up the 18th fairway to the green, acknowledging the love being showered on him from the stands by the patrons at Royal Montreal.
Yet, DeLaet still had 18 holes to play after this one and he didn’t make his Sunday assignment at the RBC Canadian Open any easier when what looked like a birdie putt turned into a three-putt bogey and he went into the evening seven shots behind Jim Furyk when it could have been a five-shot deficit.
A tough assignment suddenly turned into a near-impossible assignment, but strange things happen in this game that is often preceded by an four-letter adjective.
If DeLaet is to enjoy the fate that his faithful followers in Montreal would like to see, he’s going to have to turn up the juice on the aggression dial, which isn’t a bad thing because he’s got the game for it.
On the other hand, it could backfire on him and he could tumble down the leaderboard in his quest for the greatest Canadian moment at Royal Montreal since Mike Weir vanquished Tiger Woods in Presidents Cup singles seven years ago.
Even if aggression is successful for DeLaet, he’s still going to need some help. Perhaps, the nasty weather that has pushed up tee times at Royal Montreal will force a delay that forces Furyk off the robotic, precise game he brought with him to a tournament he’s already won twice.
Furyk shrugs off the fact that he hasn’t put a bogey on his scorecard in 50 holes going back to the first round. He says all that counts is the score at the end of the day and while there is truth to that statement, the mistake-free golf he’s playing is a good omen for Sunday.
If that continues, it’s over. Furyk controls his own fate with a three-shot lead on Tim Clark, his closest competitor, and a five-shot margin over Kyle Stanley in third place. Hoping for a Furyk collapse seems certain to lead to shattered dreams at this point.
Yet, it will have to happen if the others are to play catch-up and right now, most need to light it up before the actual thunder and lightning arrives at Royal Montreal.
That should set up a dramatic contrast in styles, but there’s little reason to believe at this point that the thundering herd will faze the robot in control right now.