PGA: Nick Taylor, fellow Canadians, aim to keep RBC tourney title


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At last year’s RBC Canadian Open, Nick Taylor was responsible for one of the highlights of the PGA Tour season.

Now golf fans up north hope a Canadian can win their national open in back-to-back years when the field tees off Thursday in Hamilton, Ontario.

Taylor ended a 69-year drought for Canadian players at the Canadian Open last June in Toronto when, on the fourth hole of a playoff against England’s Tommy Fleetwood, he holed an improbable 72 1/2-foot eagle putt.

The home crowd erupted and some of Taylor’s fellow Canadian golfers stormed the green to celebrate with him.

Taylor is one of 28 Canadian players in the field, a tournament record since it became a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. The open hasn’t seen back-to-back Canadian winners since 1913-14.

“I feel like the whole year’s been a build-up for this, potentially,” Taylor said Wednesday.

Taylor, a four-time winner on tour after capturing the WM Phoenix Open in February, is now the highest-ranked Canadian golfer in the world at No. 30, which likely means a trip to the Olympics is in his future.

Until then, he will be one of the stars of the show at this year’s host course, Hamilton Golf & Country Club. Taylor was put in a marquee group for Thursday’s and Friday’s rounds with fellow Canadian Taylor Pendrith and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, another fan favorite in the country, who’s won two Canadian Opens, including 2019 at Hamilton.

“A lot of great memories from that time,” McIlroy said of 2019. “The place was buzzing. The Raptors were about to win an NBA championship. Yeah, it was my first Canadian Open and I was blown away by just the enthusiasm that the fans have, and it was such a great atmosphere to play in.”

The course, a par-70, measures a mere 7,084 yards, with long par-3s and only two par-5s. McIlroy shot a tournament record 22-under 258 when he won there in 2019.

Scott Piercy and Jim Furyk also have won at Hamilton with scores of 14-under or better.

Other notable Canadians in the field include Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes and Pendrith, who earned his maiden PGA Tour win in early May at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson.

“I think it’s a big deal for all the Canadians playing in this tournament. It’s a major for us,” Pendrith said. “… I think all the Canadians on tour right now are playing great, so the more flags that we can get up top of the leaderboard and try and chase it down on Sunday, the better.”

The highest-ranked players in the field are McIlroy, Sahith Theegala and Fleetwood, who was gracious in defeat in 2023 and will try to one-up himself this year.

“I think to have tournaments like that and atmospheres like that is, yeah, it’s a huge reason of why we do what we do,” Fleetwood said. “Those events and those moments live in everybody’s memory as players.”

There will still be pangs of grief throughout the golf world this week after two-time PGA Tour winner Grayson Murray died by suicide Saturday at age 30.

“It’s cliche, but it puts everything in perspective,” McIlroy said. “It’s incredibly sad and everyone has to remember out here that we go out and we do things that a lot of people can’t, but at the end of the day we’re still human beings, and we’re vulnerable and we’re fragile, and I think if there’s a lesson for anyone out there it’s just to be kinder to each other.”

–Field Level Media


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