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January 13, 2012

Graham DeLaet


JOHN BUSH:  Graham DeLaet joins us with a 7‑under par 63.  Welcome back.  I know it's been a long road for you this past year.  Comment on being back and your round today.
GRAHAM DELAET:  Yeah, it's definitely exciting just to be back in a golf tournament, period.  I didn't know if I was going to be playing golf again.  But great way to start the year.  You know, just being in Hawai'i, period, is a great way to start the year, and then to come out and fire a nice round opening up is great.
JOHN BUSH:  Talk a little bit about the injuries to your back that you went through and how healthy you are now.
GRAHAM DELAET:  Yeah, I feel really good now.  I'm still progressing.  I wouldn't say I'm quite 100 percent, but I'm better than I have been probably in three years, even before the real bad injury.  But you know, I'm just so excited to be back out.  The one thing with the injury, when you're out here on TOUR, I had a good season my rookie campaign, and then it was all basically just taken away, and I realize now how fortunate we are to be playing golf for a living, and my whole attitude is definitely better.  It's changed.  I'm a lot more positive because I'm just happy to be playing more than anything.

Q.  Can we get a brief synopsis on when the back issues first started and the worst of it?
GRAHAM DELAET:  Yeah, I've always kind of battled a bad back since I was a teenager playing hockey growing up was when I originally hurt it, and it would always be once or twice a year where I'd have flare‑ups where I'd be kind of out of commission for a couple days, but then it would get better.  For whatever reason, last year, or in 2010, during the Fall Series I was really in a lot of pain, but I was playing really well, so I kind of kept going.
And then when the season was over, I just progressively got worse and worse and worse to the point where I couldn't sit down for more than ten seconds, and that was kind of when we realized that surgery was kind of the only option.  I tried a lot of different things, whether it be massage and chiropractor, physical therapy, acupuncture, tried it all, but nothing was really working.

Q.  What part of the back?

Q.  Where is that in the body?
GRAHAM DELAET:  Lower back.

Q.  And then surgery?
GRAHAM DELAET:  January 3rd of last year.

Q.  What did they do?
GRAHAM DELAET:  I had a microdiscectomy, so they basically go in‑‑ I had a herniated disk over to the right, so they go in and shave off a piece of that to alleviate the pinch on the nerve.  I had terrible pain in my right leg.  Yeah, it was not fun.  I'm glad it's all over and I'm feeling great now.

Q.  I'm sorry, what was the moment in Hartford then that was like, nope, not ready yet.
GRAHAM DELAET:  It was actually the next week.  I was scheduled to play in the AT&T at Aronimink, and I played a practice round early Wednesday morning before the pro‑am and then I was kind of practicing that afternoon or that day, and then later that afternoon, it just wasn't feeling right.  I think I wanted to be there so bad that I felt that I was better physically than I actually was, and so then the next morning I woke up, and I just knew that I‑‑ it's hard enough to compete out here when you're healthy, and I just knew that I wasn't in good enough shape to compete, so I just decided to pack her in for the year.

Q.  After the surgery how long before you were able to pick up a club?
GRAHAM DELAET:  It was about at the two‑month mark where I started hitting little chips and putts and half wedges kind of thing.  By the time‑‑ it wasn't probably until November that I could really, like, go after a drive as hard as I could or really lash at one in the deep rough kind of thing, and that's kind of‑‑ after that, because I realized, I'm like, I always thought that I was good enough throughout the year, that's why I came back and played.  But on those days or on those kind of shots, when I didn't feel anything, that's when I kind of knew that I was to the point where I needed to be to be playing and competing.

Q.  So the major medical this year, what do you need to do?
GRAHAM DELAET:  Well, I have 26 events left to make about $650,000.  Whatever the 125 Money List was last year.  And I made one cut in Memphis last year, so that will add onto whatever I make this year.

Q.  So you could do it this week?
GRAHAM DELAET:  That would be a nice way to start the year, yeah.

Q.  Could you compare your enthusiasm or optimism or excitement now compared to your rookie season?
GRAHAM DELAET:  Yeah.  That's a good question actually because in my rookie season obviously I was so excited to be out there.  I had been working so hard to get out here for four or five years, and then‑‑ so obviously I was excited to see the guys that I always watched on TV, hitting balls next to them on the range.  But this year I feel like I belong, and it's just nice to be back out playing and seeing some of the guys.
I'm a competitor at heart, and it's great to be back out competing.

Q.  Can you describe your mood or state of mind right before the surgery, kind of the progression, then after the surgery?
GRAHAM DELAET:  Yeah, I mean, it was like literally overnight, pain was like just gone.  There was obviously a lot that I had to do for the next couple months before I could pick up a golf club again.  But there was times when, like I said, I didn't know if I was ever going to be able to play again.  Things start going through your head where if you have children are you going to be able to play catch with them in the front yard and that kind of thing.  I was in a pretty bad place mentally and physically.  But just nice to be back.

Q.  And I don't know if this is correct, but your swing coach, you don't really have a swing coach, but you kind of work with your college coach?
GRAHAM DELAET:  Right, yeah, Kevin Burton.  He's kind of been my mentor for the past five years.  I mean, big reason why I'm out here, without question.  The guy has got a heart of gold.  He would do anything for me, and I owe a lot to him.

Q.  Is it true that he was a wrestling coach before?
GRAHAM DELAET:  That was the original coach when I got to Boise State, but they switched like three years in.

Q.  At what point did you know you'd be able to play well again?
GRAHAM DELAET:  You know, once I could start hitting the shots and feeling the shots that I knew that I was always capable of, and hitting it high and long or just‑‑ there was times where I just couldn't get my body to move in the right path, I guess, to hit the kind of shots that I needed to hit, especially pain‑free.  And as soon as that all started coming back, I mean, physically I feel like I'm the same player that I was then, or that I used to be, but it really feel like I'm in a better place mentally now, and one of the reasons is because I'm just so happy to be out here and playing.  I realized over the past couple years, or year, that we're all so fortunate to be playing golf for a living.  A bogey is a pretty minor problem looking back to what I went through last year.

Q.  Given that the injuries were hockey related, do you look back now and regret playing, or is that not really an option being in Canada?
GRAHAM DELAET:  No, absolutely not.  No, and the injury itself, I hurt myself the first time playing hockey, but it's because of the makeup of my body.  I've learned a lot about how my body works, and being more flexible and more strength in the right areas, and if I had that kind of knowledge when I was 16, I probably wouldn't have ever been in that situation playing hockey or not.

Q.  What were some of the high points of your round?
GRAHAM DELAET:  You know, I was actually pretty fortunate a couple times today.  I didn't hit it very good off the tee, and that's one thing that you really need to do around here.  Seemed like every time I hit it in the rough I had a little gap through the trees or could kind of chase one up to the front edge.
I made a couple long putts, probably over 30 feet, two of them, and I chipped in for eagle on No.9 today.

Q.  How far?
GRAHAM DELAET:  The chip‑in?  It was probably a 30‑footer, just off the fringe.

Q.  Usually one of your strengths, though, is driving.
GRAHAM DELAET:  Yeah, I feel‑‑ that's usually the strength of my game is my driving, and over the past‑‑ even since I was in college, my short game has always been the thing that's let me down.  That was also another positive about not being able to really play a lot of golf last year is I did a lot of work on my short game.  I started working with Gabriel Hjerstedt who used to play out here.  He showed me a lot of new shots.  I don't know if I would have the ability to hit some of the shots if I was actually playing all last year because I wouldn't have had the time to put into practice like I did this year.

Q.  Do you have to do any kind of physical therapy or after a round is over do you have a routine that you have to follow to make sure you're okay?
GRAHAM DELAET:  Yeah, I just started working with a new guy out here actually, which is pretty exciting.  We have warm‑ups in the mornings and cool‑downs after the round.  We're working out on the off days and the weekends and things like that, so I will be heading over there to the gym just next door as soon as we grab a bite to eat.

Q.  Would you say you're at 100 percent right now?
GRAHAM DELAET:  I would say probably not quite, but closer than I've been for years.

Q.  What would you put it at?
GRAHAM DELAET:  I would be over 90 percent healthy right now.

Q.  Your wife said 95.
GRAHAM DELAET:  Oh, did she?  She's optimistic.
JOHN BUSH:  Graham, we appreciate your time.  Keep it going this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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