Sunday, October 6, 2013
His team lost, but DeLaet hit 2 magical shots
DUBLIN, Ohio -- His team may have lost, but Graham DeLaet won a lot of admirers.
The Canadian made a lot of friends and headlines with his play in the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village.
DeLaet (pronounced duh-LET), who grew up in Saskatchewan and now lives in that well-known golf destination of Boise, Idaho, led the International side with 3½ points after posting a 3-1-1 record.
He paired with Jason Day to win both of their fourballs matches, then the two halved with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in a foursomes match completed Sunday morning. DeLaet saved the day by chipping in for birdie on the final hole.
"It was unbelievable," DeLaet said about the shot. "Just one of the coolest feelings in my life, really."
Then DeLaet beat another rookie at international competition, Jordan Spieth, in singles. He sealed his 1-up victory, again on the 18th hole and again with another hole-out, this one by blasting out of the gaping bunker left of the green.
He was draped in the Canadian flag as he left the green.
"Pretty crazy finish the last two times here," he said. "I executed them both well, but there's some luck involved as well. I mean, it's super exciting to finish like that. To win the match here and then to halve the match this morning, it makes it even better."
International captain Nick Price was impressed with DeLaet at a meeting of potential International team members at the Memorial Tournament (also at Muirfield Village) in May.
"We walked out of the meeting and Graham came up to me and says, `I'm going to make this team. I really want to make this team badly," Price said. "He's been a wonderful team player this whole week. Every time he walks into the (team room) he's bouncing. He's got a great disposition and he smiles a lot. And he's a hell of a player."
Even though the U.S. won 18½-15½, DeLaet came away pleased with his play and assured that he can compete with anyone.
"I definitely believe deep inside I feel more confidence in myself now," the 31-year-old said. "These are the best players in the world and this American team is just loaded with talent. To be able to come in here and play well against them means a lot."
DUELING FANS: The International side was outnumbered in cheers, but made up for it with color and wit.
There were two classic lines by the Aussie-based team-support group, The Fanatics, on Sunday.
As Jason Dufner readied to hit his opening drive in singles, wife Amanda walked into the gallery ringing the tee. The Fanatics, dressed in yellow and green to back the International side, immediately broke out in the chorus of, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"
Dufner paused in a practice swing and glanced over at opponent Brendon de Jonge, who cracked up.
When several of the red-white-and-blue clad American Outlaws fans began chanting, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" the Fanatics countered by reciting, "ABCDEFG ..."
The U.S. contingent of fans also scored some points, however.
When 46-year-old Steve Stricker, who had partnered with the 20-year-old Spieth in the first three rounds, came to the tee, the Outlaws sang, "He's big, he's bad, he could be Jordan Spieth's dad, Steve Strick-er, Steve Strick-er."
Stricker tried to keep a straight face but failed.
After Bill Haas walked to the tee, one enterprising but off-key singer offered, "Well, he's a Bill, Haaas" a riff on "Brick House" by the Commodores.
Not long after that, U.S. captain Fred Couples walked over to the partisan fan contingent in the stands and flipped a U.S. warmup jacket at the singer.
Finally, all week fans had provoked a reaction from players by shouting, "Raise your hand if you've won a major!" They did it to get a smiling Adam Scott to raise his hand almost every day.
Standing near the first tee and welcoming each of the players was 18-time major winner, Muirfield Village designer and unofficial Presidents Cup host Jack Nicklaus.
The fans broke up when someone shouted, "Raise your hand if you've won 18 majors!"
Nicklaus laughed as he lifted his left arm above his head.
When the competition was completed, several International team members donned honorary Fanatics shirts on the 18th green.
STRANGE PAIRING: Perhaps the oddest singles pairing was Tiger Woods, tops in the world rankings, going up against No. 41 Richard Sterne.
The galleries and media were clamoring for Woods to play Adam Scott, No. 2 in the world, or maybe a wily veteran like Angel Cabrera, winner of a couple of major championships during the Woods era.
Instead they got a little (5-foot-7, 150 pounds) and little known South African against the man who makes headlines with everything he does and says.
"It's when people want to go," U.S. captain Fred Couples said. "People just asked me, `Why did you put Tiger up against Richard?' Personally, Tiger has talked a little about Richard and his game this week. They have not played each other. But it just came to the point where Tiger goes anywhere from seventh to ninth in the singles (so his point will still matter) and we just didn't want to wait any longer. So we put him there."
Still, Woods needed to go to the final hole and the final putt to hold off Sterne 1-up, also clinching the Cup for the United States.
"We made the pairings this morning to try to win the Cup," Price said. "Not to put 1 and 2 together, or 3 and 4 together."
NICK THE FATALIST: His International team trailed 14-8 heading into singles and captain Nick Price knew enough about international competition to recognize the U.S. lead was virtually insurmountable.
Price was emotional as he talked about his team, what it had done so far, and what it would face in singles.
"This has been a really, really strong team from the get-go," he said. "As I look back, they have played their tails off this week. They have played really, really hard. It's disappointing to go into today with a 6-point deficit.
"I'm trying to stay up for my players because they are the ones who have done all the playing, not me. I've been out there on the sideline trying to cheer them on. But, you know, it's going to be a tough day."
It was a tough day in terms of the final result. But his team ended up winning 7½ of the 12 points in singles.
THE WEATHER: It rained, hard at times Sunday, but say this much for the competitors at the Presidents Cup -- they played on.
Tiger Woods was playing the third and fourth holes when it began to rain so hard that it was difficult to even see 300 yards up the fairway. But he and Sterne continued on, as did every one of the other 22 players on the course.
The sun never made an appearance, but the temperatures stayed in the 70s and the fans remained supportive.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: International player Jason Day of Australia, who now is a member at Muirfield Village and lives only a few miles away in suburban Columbus: "I'm glad I don't have to fly home."
DIVOTS: Among those watching the singles tee off at No. 1 was Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, whose fourth-ranked Buckeyes won at No. 16 Northwestern 40-30 late on Saturday night. At one point, Meyer, who lives just off the seventh hole at Muirfield Village, posed for pictures with Couples and Nicklaus. ... Tiger Woods' mother, Kultida, greeted him by saying, "Keep it going, baby," as he walked between the fourth green and fifth tee. He just smiled and said, "Hi, mom." ... Woods' girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, walked the course with Bill Haas' wife, Julie. The U.S. wives and girlfriends wore matching high, red rubber rain boots. ... Tournament officials handed out "Presidents Cup 2015" pins to media. Stamped on the back: "Made In China." ... For one brief moment on Sunday, the U.S. was 1-1 in completed matches, was leading in seven others, was all-square in two and was behind in only one. Yet the Internationals still made it close. ... Branden Grace and Sterne were each 0-4-0 for the Internationals. ... There were reports of a female strreaker making an appearance on the 14th hole. ... Woods led the Americans with four points and a 4-1-0 record while Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson were each 3-1-0 and Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker were each 3-2-0. ... In an awkward final moment of the competition, Phil Mickelson at first made Angel Cabrera mark his meaningless (in terms of the team score) 1-foot par putt on the final hole. After Mickelson made hit short bogey putt, the smiled and conceded the putt. ... Woods said his back "acted up on 14 coming in and it just kept getting worse and worse."
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