My latest Sympatico column is online. It focused on Canada’s two newest PGA Tour pros, who I spoke with last week. Here’s a sample:
Graham DeLaet and Chris Baryla almost seem nonplussed about entering the world of catered meals, five-star hotels, perfectly manicured golf courses and courtesy cars.
Of course there’s no sign saying “welcome to the PGA Tour,” in front of Honolulu’s Waialae Country Club this week for the first full-field event of 2010, but maybe there should be. Of course it isn’t the first time DeLaet, from Weyburn, Sask., or Baryla, from Vernon, B.C., have played on golf’s grandest stage. Both have teed it up at the RBC Canadian Open, while Baryla also played the Valero Texas Open and the Buick Open last year, so isn’t like the experience is entirely new. But there’s a difference between a dalliance that lasts a week or two, and an 11-month quest to not only retain their tour cards, but also demonstrate they deserve a revered spot among the best golf has to offer.
On paper DeLaet and Baryla look promising. Both have significant experience for their age, not dissimilar to Weir, who played the game in Asia, Australia and Canada before catching his break. Both drive the ball well, and both have fearlessly wielded long putters for the past few years. It is a promising combination of mental toughness and athletic skill.
DeLaet, 27, toured the world in 2009, winning in South Africa and Canada, and finally securing his tour card with a strong performance over six-rounds at the PGA Tour’s qualifying school in Florida. A long hitter who is terrific with his irons, DeLaet has occasionally let the fire inside of him derail otherwise fine performances. He’s proven over the last two years that he can play with golf’s best, and he’s coming onto the PGA Tour with expectations that might sound bullish if he hadn’t already had such surprising success.
“I took a little bit different mindset into the second half of  and I’m playing to win every single week,” says DeLaet. “That is what I’m planning on doing on the PGA Tour. If I’m doing that I should take care of the Top 125. I’m going to try to win every single golf tournament I tee it up in.”