Compared to the fireworks he set off in his breakthrough season on the PGA Tour in 2013, Graham DeLaet was relatively quiet over the holidays with a couple of exceptions.
The announcement that he had signed on to wear Puma gear came last week and you can read about that here. Around the same time, he received his invitation to play in the Masters and shared it with his followers on Twitter here.
Meanwhile, DeLaet and his wife Ruby were settling into their new digs in Scottsdale, Az., a big change in their lives after calling Boise home for years, including their college days at Boise State, but one designed to offer DeLaet more opportunity to practice in a golf-friendly climate.
“We’re definitely going to miss it, We’ve got a lot of great friends. That’s kind of our home now and always will be, I think,” said DeLaet.
“We’re still going to keep a place there and when it’s really hot in Phoenix in the summer, we’re going to take our off-weeks up there, so we’ll still be there from time to time, just a little bit less than we have been the last few years,” he added.
“More than anything, I think we ind of felt to really take the next step in my career, being in great weather year-round and playing at golf courses where there are other tour pros or you can always find a game, great practice facilities,” said DeLaet.
“It’s basically to try to take the next step in my career. I think that we just kind of had to do that,” he said.
DeLaet came into the new year 36th in world rankings after an outstanding year in which he finished eighth in FedEx Cup standings, had seven top-10s, including a runner-up finish at the Barclays, and finished off with an outstanding performance at the Presidents Cup.
A tie for seventh at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur and a tie for sixth at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai offered him some scheduling flexibility.
Not only does DeLaet have a new home and new apparel sponsorship, but he now has majors and World Golf Championships events to fit into his schedule, which will also look completely new compared to past years and he must figure out new ways to pace himself over the coming months.
As a result, DeLaet will continue to remain relatively quiet until Jan. 23 when he’ll play his first event of 2014 at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
“The plan going over to Asia was that if I played well, I wouldn’t play until Torrey. I wasn’t planning on playing (the Humana Challenge). I was going to go out and play (this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii), then come back,” said DeLaet.
“Hawaii is a long way to go and I actually really, really like that tournament. It’s one of my favourites of the year. It’s such a great way to start the year, but by not playing that I basically get an extra two weeks off,” he said.
“I get an extra two weeks in the gym. I get an extra two weeks to practice down in Scottsdale and I think it will really benefit me, especially when the real meat of the season comes along.” added DeLaet.
The meat of the season will get especially thick around mid-July with the British Open followed by the RBC Canadian Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
In early August, he’ll have the PGA Championship with the month closing out with the FedEx Cup playoffs and Tour Championship, which will carry into September.
“That’s going to be the toughest stretch of the year,” said DeLaet.
“If I make it all the way through to the Tour Championship, which will be one of my main goals for (this) year, that will be eight weeks out of nine that I’ll be playing some big tournaments that are all really important to me,,” he added.
“That’s going to be the true test, I think, come the end of the year, whether I can hold my wits together and be able to really focus throughout those playoffs and last couple of events before the playoffs,” he said.
“A lot of people take the Canadian Open off, but obviously, I would never do that and then, it’s like what do I take off? Well, I have to take off (the Wyndham Championship) because I can’t play nine straight weeks. That’s about my only option,” he said.
DeLaet has learned from past experience to not cram too much into a schedule. He’s concentrating on pacing himself and preparing for the big events that are coming his way, knowing the mental and physical effects of trying to take on too much.
“It’s unfortunate. There’s going to be events throughout the year that I’m going to miss that I really enjoy playing,” he said.
“My first year on tour, I played way, way too much. I didn’t play very well because I was always tired and I actually ended up with a serious injury at the end of the year too, which I may or may not have had if I played four events less,” he said of back surgery in early 2011 that you can read about here and here.
“Rest is physically and mentally really, really important for me. I still have a tiny, little lingering thing with my back,” he said.
As DeLaet mentioned, the next few weeks will see him at the gym regularly, working on a regimen created specifically by Dr. Craig Davies, also a Canadian, to help him avoid the issues he’s faced in the past with his back.
“Just doing the right things and doing things that are beneficial for me and what I need,” said DeLaet of his workout program.
“I love it. I love working out. It’s one of my favourite things to do. It’s a time when I can get in there for an hour and not think about golf and if I can do that for an hour every day, I appreciate that,” he said.
He’s taking as much of that as possible right now, before the fun begins later this month at Torrey Pines.