December 07 – Graham DeLaet insists he didn’t shave his beard off because David Feherty suggested the Canadian golfer “looked like he was trying to swallow a cat.”
He did it because he was taking too much abuse from his kids.
Not the sort of verbal jabs Feherty tosses out like old golf gloves, but real, hurtful physical abuse.
“I have twins and they turned a year old last month and they were pulling on it quite a bit,” chuckled the 34-year-old native of Weyburn, Sask.
“I couldn’t really cuddle and get close to them, and you obviously want to do that with your children. That was the last straw, and the main reason I shaved it off. Even so, I’ll probably grow it back in. I like having it.”
What started as a good ol’ Canadian playoff beard for the die-hard Flames fan morphed into the type of nest Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and most Hells Angels would be proud of. On a PGA Tour in which tradition generally dictates most lads keep scruff to a minimum, it became his trademark.
“It was, for a while,” chuckled the winner of more than $9.5 million in tour earnings.
“Obviously, I’d like to be known more for playing good golf than growing a big beard, but it was fun. There were obviously a lot of comments. Some liked it and some didn’t. I didn’t wear it for anyone else except myself.
I thought it was fun. It’s a lifestyle.”
What exactly does that mean?
“You know how bikers all kind of respect each other? It’s kind of the same way with beards,” he laughs.
“There’s just kind of a mutual respect. I wouldn’t say a cult but you are aware of the other guys because it takes some work. You don’t kind of just grow it. You want it to look somewhat decent and appealing for other people. It kind of becomes part of you.”
Despite being shaved off in July, DeLaet is in the throes of starting another, which is only a month old. By the time he gets to Calgary to be David Feherty’s guest alongside Lanny McDonald for a Dec. 16 fundraiser for the Gordie Howe Centre for Dementia Care (tickets at artscommon.ca) DeLaet is confident his whiskers will be in fine form.
“It’s not quite the way it used to be, but I’m growing it back now, so (Feherty) will have to come up with a better one than that for the event,” chuckled DeLaet.
“With my new beard, it will be nicer and better earlier because I know what I’m doing now. I was just kind of learning how to wear it when I shaved it.”
It’s well-documented his passion for beards is rivalled only by his love of the Calgary Flames, with whom he has teamed up with for several charitable initiatives.
“It’s kind of cool to have a little bit of a relationship with some of them,” said DeLaet, who lives in Phoenix, where the Flames play Thursday.
“It’s coming together. Obviously, Chad Johnson is playing unbelievably, so that’s fun to see. Seems like we haven’t had a guy who is super reliable and can win some games since (Miikka) Kiprusoff. The guys are rallying around that. They’re a fun team to watch. It seems like they are trending in the right direction.”
A call-up to the Weyburn junior A squad several times as a midget player, DeLaet reiterated something few can fathom: he’d rather be playing hockey for a living.
“I definitely made the right decision, although I’d prefer to be playing in the NHL,” said the 5-foot-11, 165-pound hockey nut, who hopes to skate with the Flames one day, as he did with the Coyotes.
“It’s funny because all those guys think I have the best job in the world, and I kind of think the same thing about them. The grass is always greener on the other side. You always want something you don’t have.
“I was a decent player who could have played Junior A, but that probably would have been the height of my hockey career, I’m sure.”
His preference for hockey stems from the rink camaraderie.
“I love the team aspect — that’s one thing I miss playing golf,” said DeLaet.
“Golf is obviously individual, although the President’s Cup was unbelievable because you’re part of a team. College golf, you’re part of a team and you’re always around the guys, but once you get out on tour, I wouldn’t say it’s lonely but everyone’s looking out for themselves. If you’re in a rut and not playing well, or banged up, your buddies feel bad for you, but nobody is going to go out of their way to give you a shoulder to cry on because we’re all out there on our own fighting for a job and for money for our families. In hockey, you’re all working towards the same cause.”
DeLaet has been off for more than a month with back issues that started plaguing him at the Shriner’s tourney Nov. 6 in Las Vegas. One week earlier, he threatened to win his first PGA Tour tourney at the Sanderson Farms Championship, in which late struggles led to an eight-place finish.
“I was supposed to go to the World Cup of Golf with David Heard in Australia, but the best thing is taking a few months off,” said DeLaet, who finished 120th in the FedEx standings last year – a long way off of the eighth-place finish he had in 2013.
“I’m starting to feel a lot better now. I’ve been doing a lot of different rehab and workouts to get back on track, and it’s finally starting to come around.”
The goal now is to return for the Sony Open in Hawaii Jan. 12.
Oh, and to avoid getting roasted too badly by Feherty.
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