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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Taylor ends Canadian drought with playoff win


 Canada’s Nick Taylor won the RBC Canadian Open in spectacular fashion on Sunday, beating England’s Tommy Fleetwood in a fourth-hole playoff to become the country’s first homegrown champion in 69 years.

After both players went through the first three holes of the playoff deadlocked at Oakdale Golf and Country Club, Taylor, a native of Abbotsford, British Columbia, ended it on the 18th hole with a seeing-eye, 72-foot uphill putt for eagle to claim his third PGA Tour victory.

Taylor closed with a six-under 66 at Canada’s national championship, while Fleetwood shot 67.

Both players finished on 17 under 271.

The victory was worth 1.62 million U.S. dollars.

Chinese Taipei’s Pan Cheng-tsung, the overnight leader, shot a two-under 70 to finish one stroke back in equal third with Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton (64) and Aaron Rai (67).

Americans Eric Cole (63) and Mark Hubbard (70) were equal sixth, three shots off the pace.

World no. Three Rory Mcllroy, the two-time defending champion, could never mount a challenge in his title defense and closed with an even-par 72 to finish equal ninth.

China’s Yuan Yechun, the halfway leader, shot a two-under 70 to finish nine-under in equal 18th, his best finish of the season on the PGA Tour.

Riding the hot hand that saw him set a course record nine-under 63 in the third round, Taylor continued his strong play into the final day after starting three strokes off the lead.

Playing three groups ahead of the leaders, he finished his round with eight birdies, including sinking an 11-foot putt at the last to take the outright lead, and two bogeys.

“I just tried to keep my head down out there today.

I didn’t look at a board until probably 17. I knew bogeying 16 with probably the atmosphere I was probably at best tied, maybe one back. I saw the board on 17.

I knew I needed to birdie at least one hole coming in,” said Taylor who became the first Canadian to win his national championship since Pat Fletcher last did it in 1954 at Point Grey Golf Club in Vancouver.

“This is the most incredible feeling.

The fans were unbelievable all day.

Every green, every tee box I was getting ovations and to make those last two putts to give myself a chance to do that, I’m speechless.”

With Taylor in the clubhouse at 17-under, Fleetwood grabbed a share of the lead when he made birdies at the 16th and 17th holes while playing in the final group.

The Southport native then had a chance to win his first PGA Tour title in regulation but missed the fairway on his drive and had to settle for a par and the playoff.

“Obviously the last (hole in regulation) was disappointing.

Missed the fairway off the tee after playing 16 and 17 so well.

So, yeah, I had my chances and didn’t take ’em,” said Fleetwood, a six-time winner on the European Tour.

“But a nice moment for Nick and the fans here.

It’s great to be a part of that Sunday and that playoff. I had my chances, really.

It wasn’t to be this time.

Bu, yeah , congratulations to him.”

Pan, who started the day with a two-shot lead, was two-over through the first 13 holes and only found his momentum when he made four birdies over the last five holes.

“I was nervous, and that’s good.

That means I care a lot. I was having a hard time to find my rhythm and a lot of in-between club distances on the front nine for the first 14 holes.

Even the read is kind of tough,” said Pan. “But that’s just golf, it’s a non-stop working, learning process.

So I will keep learning.”

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