There are many reasons to watch the Barclays this week, given that it’s the first of the four FedEx Cup playoff tournaments that will culminate next month with the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Tiger Woods is leading the FedEx points list, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be leading at the end and take the $10,000,000 first prize. Points are continually reset. Every one of the 125 players in this week’s tournament at the Liberty National Golf Club across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan is in with a chance, theoretically speaking anyway.
Canadians have one particularly good reason to follow at least the Barclays and next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass. This is because the Deutsche Bank will mark the end of the two-year period during which players accumulate points used to qualify for the Presidents Cup. The competition between International players outside Europe, and a U.S. team, will be played Oct. 1-6 at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The top 10 on the Presidents Cup points list through the Deutsche Bank will automatically qualify. Canadian Graham DeLaet is 14th at the moment, while David Hearn is 30th.
DeLaet obviously has the better chance of making the team on points, while Hearn will have to do something extraordinary, like winning this week or next, to make the team or catch Price’s eye. Price has two captain’s picks, as does U.S. captain Fred Couples. Let’s examine DeLaet’s chances here, because he has a decent chance of making the team on points — if he does well this week and next. Presidents Cup points are increased during the playoffs, and 2013 earnings count double over last year’s earnings. DeLaet is 41st on the PGA Tour’s money list, having won more than $1.5 million.
DeLaet has represented Canada in team competitions, as both an amateur and a professional. But making the International team and competing against the U.S. would be a big step forward. Mike Weir was on the International team in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009. Canadians will remember that he beat Tiger Woods 2 & 1 in their Sunday singles match. Here’s a look at that big moment in Canadian golf. The U.S. beat the International team, but hardly any Canadians following the matches cared. For them, the 2007 Presidents Cup was all about Weir and Tiger on Sunday.
How much does DeLaet want to play for Price and represent Canada in the Presidents Cup? He made his interest clear when he was asked about it during last month’s RBC Canadian Open?
“Well, my ambitions are very high, I can guarantee that,” DeLaet said. “Starting the year that was definitely one of my main goals and was on my radar. We had a Presidents Cup meeting with Nick Price at Columbus this year with potential members of the team. We got fitted for clothes and that kind of thing. Some of the players poured their hearts out just telling how much it meant for them to play on that team and what it would mean to win. You know, I was just getting goose bumps in that room sitting with some of the best players in the world, and I mean, it was at that time where I really, really wanted it.”
That meeting occurred during the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village that concluded in early June. Price said recently that he and his assistant captains will be looking at “hot” players as the qualification period draws to an end, and to “players who have had success at Muirfield Village in the past.” That means success in the Memorial.
DeLaet played the Memorial for the first time in 2010, and shot 75-71 to miss the cut. He tied for 21st this year on rounds of 7-72-74-71 for a total of one-under 287, 11 shots behind winner Matt Kuchar. DeLaet has had five top-10 finishes this year overall, in 22 tournaments.
“I mean, the only way to make that team for me is to play good golf, and so I mean, that's a goal,” DeLaet said at the meeting at the Memorial. He tied for third and eighth in his next two tournaments after the Memorial. Then came a T-30th at the Greenbrier Classic and an 83rd place finish in his first Open Championship last month. DeLaet was understandably tired after that, and missed the cut in the Canadian Open the next week and at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.
“But I mean, I've got to just focus on the process, and that's hitting every shot the best I can and playing solid golf day by day and tournament by tournament,” DeLaet had said at the Glen Abbey Golf Club before teeing it up in the Canadian Open. “Hopefully my goal is to be in the top 10 so I don't have to wait on any kind of captain's pick, and if I get picked, if I'm not in that top 10, great, and if not, that's just kind of how it goes, and I'll wait for two years to try to make it again.”
DeLaet has this week and next to make it into the top 10 or show Price that he warrants a captain’s pick. He will start the Barclays Thursday at 7:54, playing in a marquee threesome with Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood. He’d like nothing better than to join the team with Schwartzel. The 2011 Masters champion is in third place on the points list, and he’s a lock for the team.
Will DeLaet lock up a spot during the next two weeks? He’s eager to make that happen, and he’s capable of making it happen.
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Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein