DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) - The intense pressure of the Presidents Cup does funny things to professional golfers, as Graham DeLaet discovered during a roller-coaster round on Thursday.
The Canadian was so nervous before his first hole that he made an “idiot” of himself by mistakenly teeing up his ball when it wasn’t his shot.
When he was told about his mistake, he sheepishly picked up his ball then waited for his turn, feeling the eyes of the golfing world upon him after a rookie error.
“Yeah, there was a little bit of confusion there on the first tee,” he said. “I was told that we were second and then I was told we were first, so I kind of teed up, and then I kind of looked like an idiot out there by teeing it up first.”
The aborted start did not help DeLaet’s frayed nerves but he managed to regain his composure and birdie the first hole. He was no fool after all.
“I was super nervous,” he said.
“I could honestly barely feel my hands, my legs were shaking. It was a pretty cool moment and something that I’ll treasure and remember for the rest of my life.”
DeLaet got some calming advice from his playing partner, Australia’s Jason Day, who is a member at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio where the Presidents Cup is being played.
But the pair were up against it in their match with the American duo of Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker.
Despite DeLaet’s birdie on the first hole, the Internationals found themselves three down after just six holes.
A violent thunderstorm, which stopped play for around 90 minutes, proved pivotal. When play resumed, DeLaet was a model of composure, reeling off three successive birdies on the back nine to put his team 1-up with two holes to play.
The teams were all square after Snedeker birdied the 17th before Day sealed an unexpected win for the Internationals when he drained a 22-foot birdie at the last.
“After the rain delay, we came out and played great golf on the back nine, and I just knew that if I could give myself a putt on the 18th green, that I have played here enough to know where the breaks are,” said Day.
”Moments like that, that’s why you practice so hard.
“I really enjoy having the putt to win a match like that, and you know, it’s just great to see all the hard work that I’ve put in this year pay off on moments like that.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury