Nick Taylor drains insane 72-foot eagle to become first countryman to win RBC Canadian Open in 69 years
A wild, winding playoff between Taylor and Tommy Fleetwood ended with an emphatic putt
For the first time in 69 years, a Canadian has won his national open. Nick Taylor leaned on his fellow countrymen willing him to victory and became a Canadian legend in the process, finishing at 17 under at Oakdale Golf & Country Club and defeating Tommy Fleetwood with an eagle on the fourth playoff hole -- the par-5 18th.
With his dramatics, Taylor captured his third career title on the PGA Tour but the first of this magnitude. His fellow Canadians swarmed up — players and fans alike — and put the finishing touches on what can only be described as a win for the entire country.
"I'm speechless. This is for all the guys that are here. This is for my family at home. ... I'm very speechless. This is the most incredible feeling ever," said Taylor moments after sinking the putt. "I had a similar lie on the second playoff hole. I knew it was going to be slow with how much rain we've had. I wanted to get as [close as] I can because Tommy, I thought he was going to make it for that to go in. It's unbelievable. I don't know what to say."
After opening with a 3-over 75 and sitting in a tie for 120th, Taylor clawed his way back into the tournament over the next 54 holes. A course-record 63 on Moving Day gave him an outside chance to make history and put him just three off the pace of the leader C.T. Pan with 18 holes to play.
Four birdies across his first seven holes turned a dream into a reality as Taylor started to seize control of the tournament. Shouts of "Taylor! Taylor! Taylor!" began to fill the property as he made the turn towards the inward half.
A birdie from the blade of the Canadian on the 10th gave Taylor a three-stroke lead with eight holes to play. It felt like the curse had been lifted and a nice stroll to the winner's circle was in order. However, just then did Taylor's grip begin to tighten. A 3-putt bogey on the 11th saw his lead drop to one, and with Tyrrell Hatton imposing his will on the back nine, the tournament once again was up for grabs.
Hatton would post the clubhouse lead at 16 under and was soon matched by his countryman, Aaron Rai. Fleetwood kept pace with a 20-foot birdie conversion on the 11th, and Taylor remained steady during an otherwise uncomfortable time. A clutch birdie on the 17th green saw Taylor return to 16 under after a bogey on the previous hole, and a right-to-left bender on the par-5 closer gave the Canadian one last birdie and the clubhouse lead at 17 under.
But Fleetwood persisted. A birdie on 16 saw him climb to within one of Taylor, and a tap-in birdie on the next pulled him even. However, an inexplicable mistake off the tee on 18 was compounded when the 32-year-old not only chose to lay up but laid up in the rough. Fleetwood did well to make par, and as a result a third straight playoff on the PGA Tour was in order.
The two traded birdies on the first playoff hole before exchanging pars on the second (their third stroll on the par-5 18th of the day) and third (the par-3 9th) holes. The third straight tie sent the two back to the 18th tee, where Fleetwood would find the fairway bunker with iron.
This opened the door for Taylor to step through, and when his eagle bid from 72 feet — the longest putt of his PGA Tour career — found the bottom of the cup, the 35-year-old did just that and became a Canadian legend in the process. Grade: A+
Here is the breakdown of the rest of the leaderboard at the 2023 Canadian Open:
2. Tommy Fleetwood (-17): Of all the heartbreaks, this one may hurt the most for the lovable Englishman. Late birdies on 16 and 17 set the stage for his PGA Tour breakthrough on the easy par-5 finisher, but Fleetwood was unable to capitalize. A par on the last meant a playoff with Taylor, where he let not one but two clinching putts from roughly 11 feet fall by the wayside. In his 119th start on the PGA Tour, Fleetwood captured his fifth runner-up finish when including those at the major championships and World Golf Championships. His performance on the 72nd hole and the playoff leaves a sour taste in the mouth, but should not distract from an otherwise fantastic week in Toronto. Grade: A
T3. Tyrrell Hatton (-16): A third-round 72 put Hatton behind the eight-ball entering the final round. After being a member of the penultimate group on Saturday, the fiery Englishman was out in front of contenders with eyes on posting a score for them to chase. An opening birdie, and four in his first seven holes, catapulted him onto the first page of the leaderboard before a wayward drive on the short par-4 8th. It made for one of the funnier moments of the tournament when a volunteer fished his golf ball from a creek, but it was a rather large blemish on an otherwise perfect scorecard.
Six back-nine birdies, including four straight coming home, gave Hatton the clubhouse lead at 16 under and ultimately put him one short of a playoff. Hatton is enjoying the best season of his career on the PGA Tour, but his weekend in Canada feels like a missed opportunity. With only on victory on his résumé, Hatton must be itching for more despite the bevy of strong results. Grade: A-
T9. Rory McIlroy (-12): The three-peat was alive until it wasn't. McIlroy carded two front-nine bogeys to drift off the pace, and his first birdie of the round didn't come until the par-5 12th. After entering last week's Memorial with a share of the lead and firing a 75 to finish T7, McIlroy had his chance to make amends. He was the clear class of this leaderboard, and a victory would have given him all the momentum in the world rolling into the U.S. Open, where he has four straight top-10 finishes. Grade B
T20. Matt Fitzpatrick (-8): The reigning U.S. Open champion has one more week with his trophy before he may have to give it up. However, don't be surprised if Fitzpatrick doesn't go quietly into the night at Los Angeles Country Club. He ranked inside the top 15 in strokes gained off the tee and inside the top 10 in strokes gained putting en route to another quality start. If the irons pop off next weekl, the Englishman should be up for a major title defense. Grade: B-
T57. Cameron Young (-1): The sophomore slump continues for last season's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Arriving in Canada off back-to-back missed cuts, Young's main shortfall has been his performance on the greens. He got the putter to cooperate ever so slightly, but the ball striking lagged. The Wake Forest product now heads to the U.S. Open, where he has struggled in his young career despite his major championship acumen; he has not made a cut in the U.S. Open three attempts. Grade: D
Finally, someone finds the surface in two. Taylor faces 60 feet for eagle while Fleetwood was forced to lay up. The Englishman will need his best with a wedge in hand from the fairway.
LET'S DO IT AGAIN (X3)
Tommy Fleetwood leaves the door open again. They go back to 18 for the fourth time today after trading pars on the par-3 9th. Does anyone want to win this?!?!
Both will have birdie looks
They each have roughly 10 feet from just off the putting surface. One should convert. Who? I have no idea. This has been one of the weirder playoffs on the PGA Tour. The Canadians are out. The Europeans are out. The rain is falling.
LET'S DO IT AGAIN
To the 159 yard par-3 9th we go. The two trade pars on the 18th and will now head to the third playoff hole. Fleetwood missed from 11 feet for the win.
Nick Taylor hits his tee shot into the rough while Tommy Fleetwood splits the fairway. Taylor's lie is good as rain continues to persist. He will most likely go for the green from there (unlike somebody in regulation *cough* Fleetwood).
Back to the tee!
It is now pouring in Toronto as Fleetwood connects from deep for birdie, and Taylor follows in with one of his own. They go back to the 18th tee. If they tie again, they will move to the par-3 9th.
Both players find the fairway
Tommy Fleetwood is a long way back, but he is in the short grass as is Nick Taylor. Let's see if the Englishman can make amends and apply some pressure on the Canadian.
Playoff in Canada
The suspense continues. Fleetwood makes an ehhhh par on the last. Nick Taylor will join him on the 18th tee here momentarily. The Canadian has the momentum and the fans on his side. This is both of their first playoffs on the PGA Tour. Fleetwood is 2-2 on the DP World Tour.
WHAT A MESS
He missed the fairway with an iron and then Tommy Fleetwoods decides to lay up from a good lie in the rough. He puts his lay up in the rough and now has 45 feet for birdie. He will do well to two putt and force a playoff. The playoff would start on No. 18.
Fleetwood in rough on 18
He needs a birdie to win and a par to force a playoff with Nick Taylor. You can't miss the fairway with an iron like Fleetwood just did. A poor mistake at a poor time. He still has 250 up the hill into the par 5. It's a good lie and possible to get some sort of metal on it.
Tommy's tight on 17
Tommy Fleetwood: Canada's Most Wanted?
The Englishman is just one back after a birdie on the 16th to get within one of Nick Taylor. He is in the fairway on the 17th and it could be possible to catch the Canadian. If he birdies 17 he will be the favorite with the accessible 18th looming. The golf is good.
Taylor not once, but twice!
Wow, wow, wow. After not taking a drop from a sprinkler head off the green, the Canadian CONNECTS! He gets in the clubhouse at 17 under with two closing birdies to pass Tyrrell Hatton and Aaron Rai. He is your solo leader at the Canadian Open with only Tommy Fleetwood and C.T. Pan on the course with a chance to catch him. INCREDIBLE.
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