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Canadian DeLaet aims for Presidents Cup spot

Graham Delaet of Canada watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the third round of the British Open golf Championship at Muirfield in
Graham Delaet of Canada watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the third round of the British Open golf Championship at Muirfield in

By Steve Keating

OAKVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) - The Presidents Cup tailors have already sized up Graham DeLaet, now all that is left is for International captain Nick Price to decide if the Canadian is a good fit for his 12-man team.

DeLaet, a 31-year-old journeyman with a blue collar work ethic after growing up in a small farming community on the Canadian Prairies, enters this week's Canadian Open looking to notch his first PGA Tour win and clinch a spot on Price's squad.

The top 10 in the points standings after the Deutsche Bank Championship ends on September 2 will earn automatic selection with two more captain's picks up for grabs, and DeLaet does not hide his intention to claim one of the coveted spots.

Going into this week, South African Tim Clark occupies 10th place, followed by Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (11), South Africa's George Coetzee (12), DeLaet (13) and Australians Marc Leishman (14) and John Senden (15).

"My ambitions are very high, I can guarantee that," said DeLaet, the only Canadian ranked among the world's top 100 golfers at 67. "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."

That meeting with Price took place during the build-up to the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio - the same venue where the Presidents Cup will be played from October 3-6.

"Some of the players poured their hearts out just telling how much it meant for them to play on that (International) team and what it would mean to win," DeLaet told reporters.

"You know, I was just getting goose bumps in that room sitting with some of the best players in the world. It was at that time where I really, really wanted it."

It would be a rare honor for DeLaet if he were to find himself going up against the United States at Muirfield Village in the biennial team competition.

BATTLING BACK

Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, is the only Canadian to play on the International team but the little lefty will not be among those for consideration this time as he battles back from a series of injuries that have seen him drop to 586th in the world rankings.

While DeLaet is without a PGA Tour win, statistically he has been among the best players on the circuit this season, making the cut in 17 of 20 tournaments while ranking number one in greens in regulation.

He comes into the Canadian Open fresh from competing in his first major at last week's British Open and has posted five top-10 finishes on the 2013 Tour, boosting his earnings to just over $1.5 million.

"I think Graham has come a long way," said South African Ernie Els, an International team stalwart who will make his eighth Presidents Cup appearance this year. "He's got all the power that these modern players have nowadays.

"He hits it very long. He's very much more in control of his game, and I just sense that he's got more belief in himself out there.

"He's come close a couple of times or so this year already, and I think he's just growing into really a steady player. So he'll be a great asset to our team."

DeLaet's play may have earned high praise from four-times major winner Els but he knows it is Price he must impress.

With his building confidence and built-in Prairie boy perseverance, DeLaet is not afraid of the hard work it will take to get him where he wants to go.

"The only way to make that team for me is to play good golf and so, that's a goal," said DeLaet. "I've got to just focus on the process and that's hitting every shot the best I can, playing solid golf day-by-day and tournament-by-tournament.

"My goal is to be in the top 10 so I don't have to wait on any kind of captain's pick. If I get picked and I'm not in that top 10, great. And if not, that's just kind of how it goes. I'll wait for two years to try to make it again."

(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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