LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Just about everything had to go right for Graham DeLaet to have any chance to catch the leaders Sunday at the PGA Championship, and it didn’t happen for him.
Even before he’d made the turn in even-par 35, with his two birdies offset by as many bogeys, he was no longer playing for the championship but for pride, and a paycheque and maybe world rankings points.
But he did it well.
“It was a little bit sloppy,” he said, after closing with a one-under-par 70 on a day when Valhalla Golf Club was there to be had.
“It wasn’t way off, but I missed some drives, couple sloppy chips, and three-putting the last two kind of leaves a sour taste in your mouth, but overall I played great all week.
“It’s something I can definitely build on. I thought my nerves were great, I just didn’t really play all that well today.”
DeLaet made two birdies on the back but struggled in the home stretch and with a bogey at 17 and a three-putt par at the last, he knew he’d left some shots out there.
But at nine-under-par 275 for the week, in a tie for 15th with the likes of Adam Scott and Lee Westwood and Jason Day, it was by far his best-ever performance in a major.
“I’m still learning, still trying to get better. This was a good week,” DeLaet said. “It wasn’t quite what I hoped for today, but I still feel good about my game, looking forward to the (FedEx Cup) playoffs.”
He knew he was out of the chase early. The golf course was echoing with cheers, and few of them were for him.
“Yeah, there was a lot of roars today, and it was one of those days where it seemed like I was just hanging around par, got it a couple under and then kind of gave them away,” he said. “But I knew after seven or eight holes that I probably wasn’t going to win the championship, but I still wanted to play well and get as high as I could.”
Time and again during the tournament, and again Sunday, he bounced back after disappointments. He fought off the flu early in the week, a stiff neck in the second round and, like everyone else, a very soggy golf course with plenty of iffy lies and mudballs on the weekend.
“I mean, I just really knew I was playing well, so I didn’t let it get to me. It’s a lot easier to bounce back from those things when you’re playing well than when you don’t feel like you’re in control and wont have birdie chances coming up,” he said.
“I was trying to stay patient and Jules (caddie Julien Trudeau) was telling me the same thing: at any time, you can run off five or six birdies in a row. It didn’t happen, but I believed it was a possibility.”
UNHAPPY MUDDERS’ DAY: The PGA of America’s decision to play the ball “down” --- no lift, clean and place --- after torrential rains from the start of the day, and more at mid-day, was not popular with a good many of the unlucky ones who were stuck out on the course when play was suspended.
“Do you know what, it was just laughable in the end,” said Ian Poulter, who was told to remain in position while officials decided what to do, though greens and fairways were already under water.
“Hold position, hold position, hang on a second … we can't even see anything apart from water,” he said. “But we've never played preferred lies in a major. So this is what you're going to get. You're unfortunately going to get guys that are going to miss -- unfortunately miss-hit a lot of shots and get badly punished.”
BUT HAPPY BIRTHDAY: For Kentucky boy Kenny Perry, his 54th birthday Sunday was happy, indeed. He shot his third straight round in the 60s to finish six-under-par, and was serenaded all the way around by fans singing Happy Birthday.
“Every hole. Poor Luke (Donald, his playing partner), he was like, ‘Did you tweet out that it was your birthday today or how did everybody know? It was pretty special. I had huge galleries. Pretty neat way to go out.”
It was very likely Perry’s last major with the regular Tour guys.
“I'm glad. I'm ready for it. Thirty years of trying to make 3-footers, I'm ready to do something else,” he said. “It's been great. I had my time, had my chance and my opportunities. It was awesome. I enjoyed every bit of the ride.”
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