It’s taken all of 109 years and four extra holes for a Canadian-born golfer to capture the 2023 RBC Canadian Open amid some bizarre scenes in Toronto.
Nick Talyor brought his beloved Canada to a standstill, birdieing the closing two holes in a round of 66 to finish at 17-under-par and then defeated England’s Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off, during steady drizzling rain, with a stunning 72-foot eagle ‘3’ bomb at the fourth extra hole after Fleetwood, and looking for a first PGA Tour win, had earlier closed with a 67.
Two other England golfers in Aaron Rai (67) and Tyrrell Hatton (64), who ended at 16-under, shared third place.
Taylor’s monster putt on the 18th green, the fourth time he’d been on 18 over the last day, had the crowd going wild, including fellow Canadian Adam Hadwin, with Hadwin finding himself crash-tackled by a security officer while spraying Taylor with victory champers.
Fortunately, Hadwin saw the lighter side of the security officers incredible actions.
It didn’t stop Taylor being mobbed in amazing scenes not seen before at a Canadian Open.
“I heard someone shout out there, ‘everything,’ and I don’t know any other word to use other than that,” said Taylor.
“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.
“To kind of break that curse, if you want to call it is — I’m pretty speechless. I don’t think it’s going to sink in for quite some time what happened today.”
The last time a Canadian-born golfer won their national Open was Karl Keffer capturing the 11th hosting of the championship with victory in the 1914 Canadian Open, while it is 69-years ago when England-born Canadian Pat Fletcher won the 1954 title at the Point Grey club in Vancouver.
Mike Weir went the closest in recent years, losing a play-off to Vijay Singh for the 2004 championship at Glen Abbey.
And it was a double triumph for the 35-year-old Taylor as he made it a double of Canadian Open and Canadian Amateur titles, having won the country’s top amateur title in 2007. As well, Taylor’s win is a fourth by a Canadian on the PGA Tour and that is also a first in PGA Tour history.
Taylor teed-up Thursday in a 12th Canadian Open appearance, with his 2019 finish of T27th, in the year Rory McIlroy captured his first Canadian Open title, a then best result.
Taylor ended Thursday’s opening round sharing 95th place after a very average opening 75. Unbeknownst to him, he faced a Canadian Open statistic of only 90% of those over par after the first day in a Canadian Open making the cut, would go to finish no higher than an average finish of 49th.
However, Taylor clearly was having nothing to do with that.
Taylor got back into the tournament with a second round 67, and then came from seven shots back heading into the weekend before storming his way into contention in producing a Canadian Open best in 35 rounds of a nine-under 63.
Taylor then muscled his way into the front on the final day of the $US9m event thanks to four birdies in his opening seven holes. The two-time Tour winner then went three clear of the field when he birdied 10th and while dropping a shot at the 11th, he regained a then two-shot advantage with a sixth birdie of his round at the par-5 12th.
Taylor then dropped another at 16 to fall then a shot behind Hatton, but then joined him in the lead when he birdied the par-4 17th and moments ahead of Rai ending his round tied with Hatton on 16-under.
Moments later, Fleetwood let slip victory after having birdied the 18th for three days running but closed with a par to send the championship into extra time.
Both players birdied the 18th hole for a second time before returning to the 18th for a third occasion, with Fleetwood sending what was a wild second shot into the front row of a greenside grandstand from where he was afforded a free drop. Taylor was on the green in two but around 100-feet from the hole. However, both players missed their birdies to send the play-off to a third extra hole, the par-3 9th hole.
Pars for both meant it was back to the par-5 18th for a fourth extra hole where Fleetwood found a fairway bunker while Taylor was on in two, and from where he stunningly holed a 70-foot eagle bomb.
The celebrations surely went well into the night!