Canadians waited 69 years for this moment. So what’s another four holes?
Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., won the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday at Toronto’s Oakdale Golf and Country Club, becoming the first Canadian man to win at home since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
“To kind of break that curse, if [that’s] you want to call — I’m pretty speechless. I don’t think it’s going to sink in for quite some time what happened today,” Taylor said.
What happened was 22 holes of golf filled with highs and lows — and a career-defining putt at the end of it all.
WATCH | Taylor makes 72-foot eagle putt to win RBC Canadian Open:
Tied at 17-under, Taylor, 35, duelled with England’s Tommy Fleetwood over four playoff holes — they matched each other with birdies and pars playing the 18th hole twice before each making a par on the ninth.
And so off they went back to the 18th. Fleetwood’s tee shot landed in a bunker, but Taylor’s settled on the first cut.
It allowed the Canadian to attack the green, and he did, leaving himself a long eagle putt. Fleetwood, meanwhile, laid up and was standing over a putt for birdie.
Taylor didn’t let him hit it — he nailed his own putt from 72 feet, the longest of his career. The crowd around the 18th green leapt with joy.
“For that to drop was a huge surprise, but an amazing one,” Taylor said.
Adam Hadwin, the Abbotsford, B.C., native who tied for 12th in the tournament, couldn’t contain his excitement, rushing the green with a bottle of champagne in hand — only to be tackled by an unknowing security guard.
Following Nick Taylor’s winning putt, security tackled Adam Hadwin while he was trying to celebrate with Taylor, mistaking him for a fan. <a href=”https://t.co/G2ZaQhEhIK”>pic.twitter.com/G2ZaQhEhIK</a>
Elsewhere, tears flew and cheers streamed to the Toronto skies, which had been sending down rain throughout most of the playoff.
Along with Hadwin, there was Canadian golf royalty: 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, who lost a playoff of his own at this tournament in 2004, was there, celebrating on the green.
“It means everything. I feel like we all support each other so much, for them to stick around. I think all of us said it this week, if us individually weren’t the people to win, we really want another Canadian to do it and break this long drought.”
Corey Conners, the 18-hole leader who struggled Sunday to wind up tied for 20th, was there to embrace Taylor as well.
“It’s obviously a thrilling moment for Canadian golf,” Conners told CBC Sports amid the celebration. “It’s been far too long and I’m so thrilled for Nick. He’s such a great guy and been playing great, so fun to see.”
“This is the most incredible feeling ever.”<br><br>An emotional <a href=”https://twitter.com/ntaylorgolf59?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NTaylorGolf59</a> attempts to put into words what it means to win <a href=”https://twitter.com/RBCCanadianOpen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RBCCanadianOpen</a>. <a href=”https://t.co/ecOZGQ79s2″>pic.twitter.com/ecOZGQ79s2</a>
The playoff took on the feel of an international competition. As the Canadian contingent followed Taylor, Fleetwood’s countrymen Justin Rose, Shane Lowry and Tyrell Hatton were there to cheer on their man as he pursued a long-awaited first PGA Tour victory.
Fleetwood was greeted by applause as he left the green to sign his scorecard.
The crowd, meanwhile, was decidedly on Taylor’s side — they booed Fleetwood’s bad shots and politely clapped for his good ones.
For Taylor, it was unbridled support, mixed in with nerves.
As Taylor kept his place atop the leaderboard through the final regulation holes, the crowds around him gradually swelled.
The Canadian was serenaded with the national anthem, as well as many chants with variations of his name.
And the release when that shocking putt rattled the cup was reminiscent of a hockey crowd watching its team win a playoff game in the fourth overtime.
“I knew just how pumped they were and they were trying to put every ounce of energy into it to help me pull it through,” Taylor said.
Taylor becomes the fourth Canadian to win on the PGA Tour this season — the most ever. He joins Conners, Mackenzie Hughes and Adam Svensson in the winners’ circle. The latter two both missed the cut at Oakdale.
“That is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!!!! Congrats @ntaylorgolf59! 20 years ago @mweirsy inspired a bunch of Canadians like Nick to pursue their dream, and now Nick has done the same. What a moment for Canadian golf,” Hughes tweeted.
It’s Taylor’s third career PGA Tour victory. He also won the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2015 and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2020.
He’ll now move on to the U.S. Open next week at Los Angeles Country Club. He’ll also play in his second-ever Masters next April.
Hatton, England’s Aaron Rai and Taiwan’s C.T. Pan tied for third at 16-under, while American Eric Cole fired a 9-under 63 to match the course record set by Taylor on Saturday and finish tied for sixth.
WATCH | Taylor sets course record in 3rd round:
Playing alongside Fleetwood and Conners on Thursday, Taylor struggled to a 3-over 75, leaving an uphill climb just to make the cut.
“I was on the seventh hole, I remember, first day, my 16th hole, 10 feet for par and made that and birdied 8 and parred the last to somewhat be in the cut sight. So to be standing there and then sitting here today is pretty remarkable,” Taylor said.
On Friday, he lowered his score by eight strokes — more than enough to make the cut, but still leaving him with an early tee time on Saturday.
Taylor credited a “talking-to” from wife Andie, who was at home for the turnaround.
“I was just kind of getting in my own way,” he said. “I knew my game was there, but a little kick in the butt didn’t hurt.”
Taylor said he spoke to Andie and three-year-old son Charlie briefly after his victory.
“[Charlie] was probably shocked, like what the hell is going on? ‘I made a big shot,’ though, that’s what he said.”
The tournament began under a cloud of smoke — both literal and metaphorical. On Tuesday, the PGA Tour made a bombshell announcement that it was partnering with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which backs rival tour LIV Golf.
Pre-tournament press conferences were dominated by the blindsiding news, and players admitted it was a distraction.
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At the same time, smoke from the wildfires in northern Ontario and Quebec weren’t overly pervasive, especially the deeper the tournament went. There were no delays, and golfers said it didn’t affect them.
By Sunday, Taylor made sure the full focus was on golf.
During his third round, playing partner Greyson Sigg, wowed at the crowds following Taylor, asked Taylor if he was famous in Canada.
Taylor said no.
Now, that’s about to change. And he’ll be in the history books forever.