Graham DeLaet: 'I wouldn't be here … if it wasn't for Boise State golf'

Broncos unveil new award, honor alumnus and PGA Tour golfer Graham DeLaet.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comMarch 29, 2014 

Every young golfer does it during the monotony of practice. This putt, they tell themselves, is to win the Masters.

For former Boise State standout and current PGA Tour star Graham DeLaet, those moments came during practice with the Broncos men's golf team at Warm Springs Golf Club.

"It's reality now," he said of his upcoming Masters debut. "It's been a lot of hard work to get there. There have been a lot of people who helped me along the way. It's been quite the ride."

DeLaet, who ranks 30th in the world and 15th in this season's FedExCup standings, spoke to a crowd of more than 200 on Friday night at the Stueckle Sky Center, where the school held a celebration in his honor.

He won 10 college tournaments at Boise State and took Rookie of the Year (2007) and Player of the Year (2009) honors on the Canadian tour before finding a home on the PGA Tour in 2010.

The 32-year-old will play all four majors this season, starting in two weeks at Augusta National.

It will be a dream come true for a small-town Canadian hockey player who transitioned to golf because of injuries and accepted the best scholarship offer he could find - from Boise State's Mike Young.

"The wrestling coach was the golf coach," DeLaet said to laughs. "He's one of my good buddies now. … I really didn't know what to expect."

Kevin Burton, a former PGA Tour player, replaced Young in 2005 and mentored DeLaet through the end of his college career and the early stages of his pro career.

A year into his stay in Boise, DeLaet thought he might have a future on the links - but not as a guy with three straight $1 million seasons and 18 career top-10 tournament finishes.

"I don't know if I ever thought that," he said, "but I kind of dreamt it."

He credits Burton for giving him the mind-set and assortment of shots required to succeed on tour. He joked that it took seven or eight years for those lessons to sink in.

"I wouldn't be here, where I am right now, if it wasn't for Boise State golf - there's no question," he said.

DeLaet, who spends the cold months in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the warm months in Meridian, made a pitch at the event for Boise State's proposed indoor golf practice facility at Warm Springs. The $500,000 project would include an indoor chipping and putting area and hitting bays that open to the driving range.

"An indoor facility at Boise State would be unbelievable," DeLaet said. "You would see the program take that next jump, especially for recruiting kids. … To be able to continue to hone your skills all winter long and be able to jump right into a tournament in the spring and be able to play at a high level - that's the thing that's really going to take this program to the next level."

Burton also unveiled the program's new award - the Graham DeLaet Player of the Year. DeLaet presented it to the 2013 winner, T.K. Kim. Kim recently earned his playing privileges on PGA Tour China.

Burton appreciates the example DeLaet sets for his players, both on tour and by playing with the Broncos when he's in town.

"They look up to him," Burton said. "He inspires them like you wouldn't believe to hopefully someday get out there and play with him."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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