OAKVILLE, Canada (AFP) – Graham DeLaet heads a healthy home challenge at the US PGA Tour's $5.6 million Canadian Open this week, seeking to put the trophy in Canadian hands for the first time since 1954.
DeLaet, a 31-year-old still seeking a first victory on the PGA Tour, is enjoying a solid season, making the cut in 17 of his 20 starts. He has five top-10 finishes this season and leads the tour in greens reached in regulation.
"Coming into this tournament the previous four times that I played it, I always came in wanting to play good, and I believe this year that I can play well," DeLaet said. "Whether I do or not, that's going to be found out on Thursday through Sunday ... but my confidence is high."
Ending the home drought in his national Open isn't DeLaet's only goal this week, when a good performance at Glen Abbey would also boost his bid to become just the second Canadian, after former Masters champion Mike Weir, to play for the International Team in the Presidents Cup.
DeLaet enters the tournament ranked 13th in the International standings. The top 10 after the Deutsche Bank Championship on September 2 get automatic spots on the team, with captain Nick Price announcing his two captain's picks later that week.
"Starting the year that was definitely one of my main goals and was on my radar," he said of making the team for the match-play showdown between the International team and the United States, modeled on the Ryder Cup.
"Graham has played really well recently and I think he is just beginning to see how good a player he can be," Price said. "He has also seen first-hand how passionate all of us who have played in The Presidents Cup are and I am sure he would make a wonderful member of the team."
Of 18 Canadians entered this week, five are US PGA Tour regulars. That includes David Hearn, who lost the John Deere Classic earlier this month in a playoff, and Brad Fritsch -- a US tour rookie who is currently in the 125th and final spot for the tour playoffs.
American Hunter Mahan said the pressure on Canadian golfers to end the drought in their national open is greater than that faced by Americans to win the US Open.
"Being an American, you want to win the US Open, it's obviously a great tournament," Mahan said. "But I don't think there is that same connection between the Canadian Open and Canada. When you have a drought that long, I think you have to start really wanting it and start hoping. It becomes a focus of everyone this week."
England's Luke Donald compared it to playing in the British Open -- where he missed the cut last week.
"The one tournament I would love to win the most would be the Open Championship, the British Open," he said. "Not just because it's a major, but because it's your home event in a way."