Graham DeLaet found a way to follow up even the most ominous-looking shot with a gem in Saturday’s third round of the Valspar Championship, which tends to instill confidence in a guy still seeking his first PGA Tour victory,
“I think (Sunday) is going to be the day,” said DeLaet.
“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,” he said.
If that is, indeed his fate, then he’ll need a performance similar to Saturday’s, when he followed up a 66 on Friday with a three-under 68 that saw him go even par on the front nine, where he had two bogeys and two birdies, including the par four seventh, where he sunk a 57-foot birdie bomb.
“I actually hit, I thought, a pretty decent iron shot in there and kind of got gobbled up. I got a gust of wind. It was a huge bonus I made. I haven’t made a putt outside of 10 feet all week – nice to see that one go in,” said DeLaet.
After making the turn at even par, DeLaet followed an errant tee shot on the par five 14th with a spectacular approach shot that he successfully completed for eagle.
“Got away with a poor tee shot,” he said.
“I hit it way right and perfect line at the green and hit a really good three wood. I wasn’t really sure exactly when it was in the air because it wasn’t much of a reaction up at the green, but as soon as I kind got out here, it was three feet – pretty nice to have a tap-in eagle,” he said.
You can watch both shots here.
DeLaet’s final birdie came at 16.
“Probably one of the best iron shot of the day. Cut down eight iron, perfect distance. Another kind of tap-in birdie,” said DeLaet, adding he can improve off the tee on Sunday.
“I didn’t actually hit my driver all that well. Hit a loose one on 10 and 11 and loose on 14, the par five. I was able to get away with them, made a couple good pars on the back nine to keep things going. Finished well,” he said.
So, improvement off the tee might go a long way for DeLaet on Sunday, but after shooting a one-over 72 in Thursday’s first round, he seems to be handling the wind that has had a strong presence this week, as well as settling into the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort.
“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday the wind was straight out of the Southeast pretty much for the entire day,” said DeLaet.
“(Friday), it kind of switched and (Saturday) kind of bouncing around, tough to commit to shots, but I think my caddie and I, Julien (Trudeau), did a really good job today making sure we committed to what we thought the wind was at and actually, I thought I hit a great shot into 18 there,” he said.
“I think we had a little bit of help. We didn’t misjudge many,” he added.
“This is a good course for my game, no question. You can’t slop it around this place. You got to be pretty much on point, especially with the wind kind of bouncing around and was playing havoc with us a bit. We made good decisions and played well,” said DeLaet.
He’s got one more to go and should he be successful, he expects his career will change dramatically.
“I think, once I kind of break through, I hope that that will kind of make it easier and know that I have it in me but, you know, right now I know that I have what it takes, but I still haven’t ever gotten it done. That’s kind of the next step in my career,” said DeLaet.