last year, to 72nd thus far in the tour’s new split-calendar
season. Combine this with a 304.1-yard driving average, sixth
on tour, and you have a fairly lethal golfer.
“I had poor technique chipping and putting; I just never
was taught. A lot of things I just never knew,” says DeLaet,
who is 14th in scoring average this season at 69.873. “Now I
have confidence with every part of my game. And playing in
the Presidents Cup … it was pressure I never felt before, but
I played a lot of good shots under the gun. Those experiences
you can draw from.”
DeLaet’s increasingly frequent forays on the leader board
have prompted some good-natured ribbing from Foley. “He
always texts me, joking that I’m making golf coaches look
bad, that they’re not needed anymore,” DeLaet says with a
laugh. This is a reference to DeLaet’s powerful, homegrown
swing. His parents, Norman and Marilyn, were avid golfers,
and his father taught him the basics. The rest he figured out
himself, playing up to 54 holes a day at Weyburn GC. He has
never had a formal swing coach, though Burton has helped
him develop a variety of shots.
“He’s figured out something at an early age, and he’s
trusted it and realizes that he doesn’t have to mess with it,”
Hjertstedt says. “He feels his swing. He’s connected to the
club, and he’s got a unique action, very strong.”
Burton adds: “He doesn’t really want to know much about
the golf swing. He just lets his athleticism go. He’s always had
the ball-striking. I’ve seen him hit a 2-iron straight up in the
air 250 [yards]. It’s incredible what he can do with the ball.”
Despite his back problems and his wispy 5-foot- 11, 165-pound
frame, DeLaet generates tremendous clubhead speed through a
full upper-body rotation initiated by a clean, one-piece take-
away. The downswing has a slashing quality, and he derives
extra power by driving his legs through the shot.
“It’s a very economic, functional swing,” says Foley, whose
pupils include Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan.
It’s also a swing born of memory, not mechanics. “I never
look at my swing on video. I just try to be athletic through
the ball,” says DeLaet, whose disdain for mechanics actually
gives him an inherent advantage, because it frees him to con-
tinue developing a wider variety of shots. In fact, DeLaet has
an unorthodox practice routine. He’ll warm up by hitting 15
conventional shots, but soon he moves on to low draws, high
cuts, even hooded snap-hooks. “I’m just trying to hit shots,
as opposed to hitting a perfect 7-iron with a perfect swing.
Even when I’m practicing, I’m playing.”
And it’s only when he’s playing golf does DeLaet’s alter ego
emerge. Perhaps that’s why the usually conservative home-
body, the guy who lists pedestrian pursuits like fishing and
bowling as two of his favorite pastimes, chooses such colorful
outfits when he competes. (He just inked a new clothing con-
tract with Puma to start the year, as well as a new sponsorship
deal with Shaw Communications in Canada.) Of course, find-
ing downtime is becoming a challenge. He is much in demand.
Just imagine what will happen when he starts winning.
DeLaet already has given this consideration, but in a
manner consistent with his good-natured sensibilities. “I
told Ruby, ‘If you ever notice that I’m changing, just smack
me upside the head. Stop me in my tracks right there,’ ” he
says. “I’m a small-town kid from Saskatchewan. I want to be
the same person whether I’m making one dollar or a million,
whether I win one tournament or a bunch.
“Deep down,” DeLaet adds, his blue eyes blazing, “I know
who I want to be.”
Hjertstedt smiles when he hears this. “You see,” he says,
“as a person, he already is winning.” n
Signs of the times: (Left) DeLaet accommodates autograph seekers at
last year’s BMW Championship during his FedEx Cup playoffs run. (Right)
Celebrating his fourth wedding anniversary with wife Ruby, who became an
instant fan of DeLaet’s at the Boise Open during his Web.com Tour days.