You’ve heard of players making swing changes, altering their putting grips, going on different fitness regimes or working with new equipment, but it isn’t often that you actually witness an attitude adjustment as we did on Saturday when Graham DeLaet was one shot off the lead at the Valspar Championship.
I think (Sunday) is going to be the day. I’m going to go out there and try to win this golf tournament. Every time in this position I kind of say the politically correct things. I’m going to go and win this golf tournament (Sunday). That’s my plan.Graham DeLaet
By now you know he didn’t win, but tied for fifth, but what he said Saturday hardly seems like a prediction or guarantee of victory. Most agree that he is more than capable of winning on the PGA Tour, but it hasn’t happened.
He’s been plagued by injuries over the years, but DeLaet’s physical skills are plentiful, even if his putter and overall short game let him down on Sunday when he shot a birdie-less 75.
On the other hand, DeLaet isn’t likely to discount or discredit the likes of a former FedEx Cup champion in Bill Haas, or a former Masters winner such as Charl Schwartzel, who came on to win in a playoff against Haas.
What DeLaet is seeking is improvement in the mental game, something we don’t see or hear much of publicly like we do with swing changes, putting grips, etc. “I needed to believe in myself,” said DeLaet afterwards.
Confidence is the edge he seeks, but he needs to find the balance between that and the patience that was required in windy conditions at the Valspar on Sunday. He seemingly found that balance, at least with his ball-striking, even if his putter betrayed him.
That attitude adjustment that he displayed on Saturday is merely an edge he’s seeking in his mental game, the same as he would in any other aspect of his game, perhaps what might put him over the top in his quest for his first PGA Tour win.
There’s little double that the other ingredients are there.
Kane Can Relate
Like DeLaet, Lorie Kane, who was announced last week as a 2016 inductee into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, was a player who had the talent to win on the LPGA Tour, but finished as a runner-up nine times, four of them in playoffs, before that first victory came in 2000.
She was asked frequently about getting so close, but not taking the next step to victory.
“While I was saying to you, “Patience, patience, patience,” there was some turmoil inside me and I don’t mind sharing that with you now,” said Kane when I chatted with her after the hall of fame announcement.
“I remember going home to PEI and thinking, `I can’t do this.’ I had come up against the seconds, I had lost in playoffs. There were things that were happening and I maybe started thinking about what I was reading or hearing from other people,” she said.
“Dottie Pepper told me I was too nice to win. If that was the case, then winning was something I didn’t know if I really wanted because I truly believe you can still be nice and still be a winner,” she added.
“I don’t think Dottie meant any harm by her comments,” said Kane, adding that she would have to put it all the outside chatter out of her mind and succeed from within.
“To use Bob Rotella’s quote, he said, `She’ll get across the finish line when she’s tired of doing what she’s doing,’” she added.
She got across the finish line in August of 2000 when she won the Michelob Light Classic in St. Louis, then proceeded to personify the belief in golf that once a player of such talent wins for the first time, the Ws will come in bunches.
Less than two months after the initial victory, Kane won the New Albany Golf Classic and a month later, took the Mizuno Classic. Three months later in February of 2001, she won the LPGA Takefuji Classic.
To listen to the entire interview with Kane, click here.
The Short Game
DeLaet did make a big jump in the world rankings after his performance in Palm Harbor, ascending from 170th to 134th. As top Canadian, he is a solid candidate for Canada’s Olympic team this summer. David Hearn, who missed the cut at the Valspar, is 155th and Adam Hadwin, who also missed playing the weekend, is 191st. The top two will be off to Rio … By the way, there is no truth to the rumour that a colony of leprechauns is residing in DeLaet’s beard, waiting to spring into action on St. Patrick’s Day. The Sasquatch that lives in there chased them out … Hadwin and Hearn are the only Canadians in the field at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando … Brooke Henderson, Alena Sharp, Maude-Aimee Leblanc are in the field as the LPGA Tour swings back into action at the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix. SooBin Kim of Coquitlam, B.C., is also playing … The Web .com Tour also resumes its schedule, beginning Thursday at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in Broussard, La., where Albin Choi, Devin Carrey, Brad Fritsch, Mackenzie Hughes, Taylor Pendrith, Adam Svensson and Ryan Yip will tee it up … The Tucson Conquistadores Classic is this week’s stop on the Champions Tour, with Stephen Ames and Rod Spittle playing … Last week’s GNN Poll asked if Golf Canada should be required to balance the books each year, which resulted in 75 per cent saying yes and 25 per cent saying no … This week’s poll asks how much earlier the golf operation where you work is planning to open this year compared to other seasons? As of this writing, the majority, or 41 per cent, expected to be open two weeks to a month earlier than usual, 33 per cent said they’d be open about the same time as usual and 23 per cent thought they would be open one to two weeks earlier Another three per cent said they’d be open later than usual. You can cast your vote on the GNN home page.