Nick Taylor's win at RBC Canadian Open is 'everything'
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Walk-off playoff eagle snaps Canada's winless drought at 69 years
TORONTO – When Jordan Klein, a long-time member at Oakdale Golf and Country Club, thought about his course hosting the RBC Canadian Open, there was an inkling, that, well, something like this could happen. There’s always a chance with golf.
And then, after a 72-foot eagle on the fourth playoff hole Sunday in Toronto, it did happen. History. A seminal moment. Something that no Canadian will ever forget.
Nick Taylor won the RBC Canadian Open, becoming the event’s first Canadian winner since Pat Fletcher in 1954. The drought is no longer, extinguished at 69 years.
He did it. He really did it.
Nick Taylor jars 72-footer for eagle to win four-hole playoff at the RBC Canadian
“It’s everything,” Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum said of what Taylor’s win means for Canadian golf. “It’s that other bookend to (Brooke Henderson’s CPKC Women’s Open) win. Brooke and Nick Taylor are going to be connected together now, having Canadian Open wins together over the last five years. It’s a moment we’ve been waiting for (for) so long.
“It is unbelievable for Canadian golf”
Applebaum was on the receiving end of the LinkedIn message from Klein when the club – which celebrates its centennial in 1926 and is hoping to have the RBC Canadian Open again – decided it wanted to try to bring the PGA TOUR there. It became the 37th venue in the 117-year tournament history when the balls hit the air Thursday morning.
But it’s one venue that has delivered in the biggest of ways for Canadian sport.
“Definitely taking nothing away from Mike Weir’s 2003 Masters victory here, but this is right up there with the greatest Canadian golf accomplishments. Brooke Henderson winning in Regina, yes. But honestly it’s up there, truly, with some of the greatest accomplishments in Canadian athlete history,” Adam Hadwin said.
Hadwin, who grew up in Abbotsford, B.C. along with Taylor, playing the same golf course – Ledgeview – was among the trio of countrymen who followed the entirety of the playoff. Corey Conners and Mike Weir (who had left the property and came back) watched each of the four extra holes in person.
They were in the locker room peeking at the coverage on the TV with Taylor’s brother, Josh, as Tommy Fleetwood finished at 17 under, tied with Taylor in regulation. The TOUR winners had all changed into leisurewear – Hadwin and Conners were waiting on the charter to the U.S. Open. Beers were cold and open, from Sleeman – a brewery in Guelph, Ontario. They weren’t going to miss this one.
Josh Taylor said the win showed the determination of his brother. There are so many young, amazing players in Canada, he explained, and this shows they’ll be able to do it, too.
Taylor, to his credit, hung in there in the biggest of moments as the playoff continued.
Nick Taylor wins playoff in dramatic fashion at the RBC Canadian
Earlier in the season, he went toe-to-toe with Scottie Scheffler at the WM Phoenix Open. That was rowdy. A scene. Taylor was right there until the end. This was a similar setting, but totally different stakes.
“I think it's a tournament that we've circled on our calendar since probably junior golf. But ever since I've been on the PGA TOUR, this is one that we want to do as well as we can in, and the crowd support was the most unbelievable thing I will probably ever experience in my life,” Taylor said. “To break that curse, if you want to call it … I'm pretty speechless.”
Fleetwood had three makeable chances to win the tournament, including in regulation, but when his putts wiggled by each time, Taylor stepped up when it mattered the most.
“He’s put himself in some big-time moments,” said Hadwin. “He played well through those moments, and it showed today.”
Nick Taylor’s interview after winning RBC Canadian
Dave Markle, Taylor’s caddie – a nice player in his own right, having gone to Kent State, the same school as Conners, Taylor Pendrith, and Mackenzie Hughes – was a calming presence through the wildest of Sundays. He kept telling Taylor to see his shot. He saw this coming.
“He’s been building up to this all year,” said Markle. “I’m the least surprised of anyone to see this happen.”
While Taylor’s Canadian pals were front-and-center (and that big-hug moment with Markle will go down in Canadian sports lore as the most iconic of images), he was missing a couple key members of his squad. His wife, Andie – who gave him “a talking-to” after he sat 120th following the first round – was at home in British Columbia along with son Charlie and newborn daughter Harper Mae. They jumped on FaceTime, briefly, after his win. There were some tears. Taylor didn’t get that run-out-on-the-green moment with them, but it didn’t take away from how special the win turned out to be.
“I got to say ‘hi’ to Charlie and he was probably shocked at what the hell was going on,” Taylor said with a laugh. “I made ‘a big shot,’ though. That’s what he said.”
So, what’s next? How will this register in Canadian golf history?
Mackenzie Hughes took to Twitter and called Taylor’s win “the most amazing thing” he’s ever seen. Weir’s Masters victory in 2003 inspired a generation of Canadians like he and Taylor and Conners and Pendrith to pursue this dream. Taylor might do the same.
Brooke Henderson, Canada’s winningest golfer of all time on the PGA or LPGA Tour, has been busy rewriting the history books over the last few years. She’s won 13 times including two majors. She captured the CPKC Women’s Open in Regina, Saskatchewan in 2018 (on a day that was eerily similar, weather-wise, to Sunday in Toronto) and knows exactly what it takes to win a national open. She broke a 45-year winless drought herself.
“Amazing victory by Nick!! Winning at home is the best,” Henderson said via text message. “All of Canada is proud today! Congratulations to Nick on the impressive win!”
Nick Taylor’s news conference after winning RBC Canadian
Taylor took the RBC Canadian Open trophy into Oakdale’s clubhouse, where its membership, clad in navy blazers, raised a toast. Josh Taylor was there, arm-and-arm with his brother. Hands shook. Moet & Chandon champagne, enjoyed. Another moment on a day full of moments. Although the tournament ended three hours prior, there was Markle, still in the Oakdale clubhouse wearing his caddie bib. He hadn’t changed.
The sports programming in Canada will all lead with Taylor’s win Sunday night. The papers will have Taylor’s photo on the front Monday morning.
The moment draws comparison to Sidney Crosby’s gold medal-winning goal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Weir’s green jacket, the Toronto Blue Jays’ World Series wins and the Toronto Raptors’ NBA title. Canadians will now discuss Nick Taylor in the same sentence as those moments that have come before.
So, how do you put history into words?
“To think that I'm the person that people are thinking about is kind of breathtaking,” Taylor said with a pause. The emotion hit. “I don't think it's going to sink in for quite some time what happened today.”
A first-time venue. A deserving champion. An all-time moment.
O Canada, indeed.