Tour pro shows he'll try literally anything by chipping with one hand at the Safeway Open
What would you do if you had the chipping yips? Call it quits? Cry into a pillow? Ask the good lord to take you now? All viable options, in our humble opinion.
We say this because, as our senior instruction writer Matthew Rudy once pointed out, the chipping yips are particularly devastating because there are way fewer options for fixing them. Rudy wrote this in a 2016 instruction piece about Graham DeLaet, who had been plagued by a bad case of chipping "anxiety," causing him to pull out of the 2016 Memorial Tournament. In this case, anxiety was code for that dreaded "Y" word.
DeLaet has continued to battle these demons in the four years since, even making over $1.6 million in 2017 despite being 187th on tour in strokes-gained: around-the-green. Injuries then kept DeLaet out for most of 2018 and all of 2019.
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After playing just five events last season, DeLaet is back for 2020-'21 on a major medical extension. The 38-year-old Canadian is in the field this week at the Safeway Open, where he showed on Thursday that he'll try literally anything to cure his chipping woes. And by anything we mean chipping with one hand:
If you go back to our 2016 article, you'll see that practicing one-handed chips is one of the few ways you can attempt to cure the chipping yips. But to actually try it in competition? That takes some serious guts, and it takes even more guts to pull it off. As you can see, DeLaet almost chipped it in.
"I’m just trying to get it as close to the holes as I can," DeLaet told Golfweek's Adam Schupak following a first-round 74. "I had four or five of them today that were all pretty good results. I’d rather be using two hands but I’ve gotten pretty good with one and that’s what I’m doing now."
We'd say it's better than pretty good, Graham. It was one of the better parts of his opening round, as he gained 1.026 strokes around the greens, good enough for 23rd in the field. That might not sound like much, but just remember he was doing this with one hand and he has been a perenially awful chipper. Ranking 23rd in the field in that area is cause for celebration.
"It’s been pretty well documented that I was having some issues but when I use one hand I don’t get those thoughts and the anxiety," DeLaet told Golfweek. "I’ve put in time with practicing and feel pretty comfortable and calm doing it. I’d like to get back to two hands but I almost chipped in twice."
DeLaet might want to stick with it for now, especially if it's getting the attention of perhaps the greatest short-game player ever, Phil Mickelson:
OK, maybe that means he's frightened, but he's also just as intrigued as the rest of us. Keep on grinding, Graham. Two hands are overrated.