DeLaet the lone Canadian at the US Open
When the 114th US Open tees off at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club on Thursday, Saskatchewan’s Graham DeLaet will be the only Canadian with a shot at winning the major.
DeLaet may not be entering the tournament as one of the clear favourites, but he definitely has enough skill to surprise his way to the top of the leaderboard.
The 32 year-old DeLaet, who is currently Canada’s highest ranked golfer at 32nd in the world, will be playing in his first ever US Open. The appearance will mark the final major that he had yet to compete in. After surprising many by making the cut at the 2013 Open Championship (his first ever major), DeLaet played in his first Masters tournament in 2014, competing alongside Canadian golf icon and 2003 Green Jacket winner Mike Weir.
They may not have realized it at the time, but in a lot of ways it was a passing on of the Canadian golf torch ahead of the sport’s return to the Olympics at Rio 2016. Weir (aka Weirsy) has been the biggest name in Canadian Golf for years, but it is likely that Canada’s best shot at an Olympic medal now rest on the shoulders of the up-and-coming DeLaet.
At last year’s US Open, Weir led the way for the 4 Canadians competing (David Hearn, Mackenzie Hughes, and Ryan Yip were the others). After finding his way to the top of the leaderbaord on Day 1, Weir’s game started to fall apart. He managed to make the cut after 36 holes (the only Canadian to do so), but shot five-over in the third round to put him out of contention heading in to the final day.
This year, Weir was unable to capitalize on his opportunity to qualify for the tournament, which would have marked his 14th US Open. Having another Canadian in the field surely could have been a benefit, but DeLaet will be prepared and noticeably excited. Following this week’s practice rounds, he mentioned “this is my first U.S. Open but I’ve watched it on TV for years.”
DeLaet enters the year’s second major with some momentum too, having placed in the top-10 six times already in 2014. His booming drives have helped him earn more than $2 million this year, which puts him 20th on the PGA Tour’s Money Leaders, while the veteran Weir sits at 80th with just over $835,000 in winnings. DeLaet will be relying on his distance off the tee this weekend as he attempts to follow in Weir’s footsteps and become the 2nd Canadian ever to win a major.
Graham will find himself grouped with Americans JB Holmes and Gary Woodland when the tournament begins, both of whom sit behind DeLaet among this year’s money leaders. Their first round is scheduled to tee off at 1:36pm on Thursday.