CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Graham DeLaet bookended back-to-back eagles with a pair of birdies in a stunning four-hole stretch to charge into contention at the PGA Championship on Saturday.
After a birdie at the par-three 13th, the Canadian then went eagle, eagle, birdie — six-under-par for the four holes — en route to a three-under 68 at Quail Hollow.
DeLaet, two-under for the tournament and five shots adrift of leader Kevin Kisner, was as surprised as anyone by the run, which came after what had been a mediocre round up until that point.
He had even needed a pep talk from his caddie after being “bummed out” by a double-bogey at the 11th.
“It’s fun to do that at a regular tour event but at a PGA Championship that’s pretty cool,” said the world number 117.
“It’s something I’ll probably always remember. And the nice thing about it was it put me in a position where something really special tomorrow can (happen).
“Probably gonna take a special round, but you never know.”
DeLaet’s run started when he almost made a hole-in-one with a six-iron at the 13th, his ball stopping on the edge of the cup. He almost aced the 301-yard par-four 14th as well, his tee shot with a three-wood running over the hole before stopping eight feet beyond, from where he sank the eagle putt.
“I almost had three (eagles) in a row because I hit it to an inch the hole before,” he said.
“I left that ball hanging on the lip (at the 13th and then I) hit the hole on the next one, the par-four.
“That’s where I turned to (my caddie) and said, ‘Man, I could have just gone one, one,’ but going two, two is pretty good on those holes too.”
DeLaet’s charge continued with a 12-foot eagle putt at the par-five 15th before he sank a 45-footer for birdie at the par-four 16th.
“That was just a bonus, are you kidding me?” he said of the 16th. “When that putt went in, you shake your head and it was pretty unreal.”
The 35-year-old is still seeking his first victory on Tour, and a major would not be a bad way to start.
Afflicted with a chronically bad back, he underwent microdiscectomy surgery in 2011, the same procedure Tiger Woods has undergone, and is health is a day-to-day issue.
“I’ve been on the (treatment) table a lot this week,” he said. “I haven’t done any practising. Today was the best that it felt.
“It was painful with every swing but it didn’t affect me for the first time this week, so that was nice.”
Additional reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Peter Rutherford