Long-hitting Pendrith finally healthy
May 22, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- After three years of battling numerous injuries, Taylor Pendrith is settling in on the Mackenzie Tour. (Claus Andersen)
Since Taylor Pendrith turned professional he’s been known as one of the longest hitters on the planet. His ball speed is comparable to Dustin Johnson, same with his distance off the tee. It’s an effortless pounding of the golf ball that is borderline offensive.
And his drivers pay the price.
“It’s hard to tell for me, honestly, but I think I’ve gone through a couple,” Pendrith says with a laugh, admitting he’s already had to replace his driver a few times this year since they get dented by his raw power. “The ball doesn’t fly properly. They’re not cracked, but I can sense when they get a little flat.”
To hear Pendrith talk about his power again is a positive sign for the 26-year-old who has battled from a myriad of injuries over the last few years.
He’s had pain in his hand, wrist, and elbow since earning a Web.com Tour card via his third-place finish on The Five in 2015. He’s played a mixed bag of Tour events since then – and he Monday Qualified for the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year on the PGA TOUR – but there was always something that was holding him back.
In 2018 he had a solid, if unspectacular, season on the Mackenzie Tour, finishing 35th on the Order of Merit. It was a bit of a false start, since he felt as if he had turned a corner in terms of his health. This year, however, it’s time to go.
“It’s kind of exciting to be back practicing the way I want to, and it feels good,” he says. “I haven’t had any issues in probably the last 4-5 months.”
Pendrith admits he’s been fighting injuries for three years. It’s the kind of pain he’s had trouble shaking, despite all kinds of therapeutic methods. It’s a great relief, he says, to be able to make a swing now and know it’s not going to hurt.
“I’m getting my swing back to what I used to have and I’m starting to hit it well again, which is super exciting,” he says.
Pendrith is still on the young side as it relates to professional golf – the average age of winners on the Web.com Tour this season, for example, is 29 – but he says he’s lately been addressing queries from guys even younger than he, who are just now starting their professional careers on the Mackenzie Tour.
The native of Richmond Hill, Ont. says he’s happy to address any questions from the guys who are just starting out since he’s played two full seasons on the Mackenzie Tour and he knows the golf courses well.
When he first started out, he was looking for help, so he knows what it’s like to get a helpful response when you are out there trying to learn.
“At the end of the day, you can’t control what anyone else does (on the course) so if you can help them out, it’s great,” he says. “You just stay worried about your own game and try to shoot the lowest score possible – helping other people is definitely a thing I loved from when I started, so I’m happy to pass that on.”
As Pendrith looks ahead to the Mackenzie Tour season, he’s already excited for a return to Ambassador Golf Club for the Windsor Championship. The course yielded Pendrith with his best finish of 2018 (a tie for fourth) and he says the event, as a first-year tournament, got a ton of support.
The combination of playing in front of a big crowd and a golf course that really suits his game is what gets him excited for that early-summer return to southwestern Ontario.
“It’s a lot of drivers so you can cut some corners, you can take some lines other guys can’t and overpower the golf course,” he says “I had a good finish there last year and I feel really comfortable.”
Despite the injuries the last few seasons, Pendrith says his strength off the tee remains the best part of his game. His speed, he admits, has gone down a little bit but it’s barely noticeable. He can score well when the driver is on, since he’ll be hitting a lot of wedges and short-irons into greens.
And not only is his own game coming into form, he’s also been able to bear witness to the success of his close friend and fellow Canadian, Corey Conners.
Conners, a Mackenzie Tour alum – along with a Golf Canada national team member and college teammate to both Pendrith and Mackenzie Hughes at Kent State University – captured his first PGA TOUR title in April and followed that up the very next week at the Masters with a made-cut. Conners also made the cut at the PGA Championship last week, and Pendrith says it’s been inspiring to see Conners’ success. He lived with Conners and his wife, Malory, in the winter months in Florida so he got to see his prep work up close.
“I’m super pumped for Corey because it was a fantastic win. I grew up playing with him, probably a couple thousand rounds of golf with him, and I know if I play well my game is right there too,” says Pendrith. “I’m super inspired by that and I can’t wait to get the season going and hopefully get some wins.”
Pendrith headed to Augusta National to watch his friend compete in the Masters this year, and was enjoying a beer with the Conners’ crew once Sunday wrapped up. They were standing at the clubhouse when they heard the deafening roar from No. 16 after Tiger Woods nearly made a hole-in-one.
The group decided to walk out to No. 18 and watch the final hole. They got close to the tee but had to watch the final putt drop from an adjacent fairway.
It was madness, Pendrith says, and an awesome scene. It was good for the game of golf to see Woods win.
And it was a reminder for Pendrith that coming back from injury can very much be done.
“It was pretty exciting to see him win again,” says Pendrith, “for all he’s been through.”