For the first time in 69 years, a Canadian won his national open. Nick Taylor leaned on his compatriots ready to win 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 th -18.
In his dramatics, Taylor captured his third career title on the PGA Tour but the first of its size. His fellow Canadians flocked — 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,” Taylor said shortly after the putt. “I had a similar lie on the second playoff hole. I knew it was going to be slow with the amount of rain we had. I wanted to get the number [close as] I can handle Tommy, I thought he would find a way to get in there. 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 clacked back into the tournament over the next 54 holes. A course-record 63 on Moving Day gave him an outside shot at making history and put him just three clear of leader CT Pan with 18 holes to play.
Four birdies in his first seven holes turned into a dream as Taylor began to take control of the tournament. Screams of “Taylor! Taylor! Taylor!” began to fill the property as he turned towards the inner half.
A birdie off the Canadian’s blade at the 10th gave Taylor a three-stroke lead with eight holes to play. I feel like the curse has been lifted and a nice walk to the winner’s circle is in order. However, at that moment Taylor’s grip began to tighten. A 3-putt bogey on the 11th cut his lead to one, and with Tyrrell Hatton imposing his will on the back nine, once again the tournament was up for grabs.
Hatton would post the clubhouse lead at 16 under and was soon equaled by his compatriot, Aaron Rai. Fleetwood followed through with a 20-foot birdie conversion at the 11th, and Taylor held steady through an uncomfortable time. A clutch birdie on the 17th green put Taylor back at 16 under after a bogey on the previous hole, and a right-to-left bender on the par-5 closer gave the Canadian a final birdie and the clubhouse lead at 17 under.
But Fleetwood continued. A birdie at 16 saw him move to within one of Taylor, and a tap-in birdie at the next pulled him back. However, an inexplicable error on the tee at 18 compounded when the 32-year-old not only chose to lay up but pile into 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 walk on the par-5 18th of the day) and third (the par-3 9th) holes. A third straight bogey put him back in two on the 18th tee, where Fleetwood could see the fairway bunker with an iron.
It opened the door for Taylor to slip through, and when his eagle putt 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’s a breakdown of the remaining leaderboards in 2023 Canadian Open:
2. Tommy Fleetwood (-17): Of all the heartbreaks, this was the most painful for the lovely Englishman. Late birdies on 16 and 17 set the stage for his PGA Tour breakthrough on the easy par-5 finisher, but Fleetwood couldn’t capitalize. A par at the last meant a playoff for Taylor, where he let not one but two clinching putts from about 11 feet fall by the wayside. In his 119th start on the PGA Tour, Fleetwood earned his fifth runner-up finish in major championships and World Golf Championships combined. His performance on the 72nd hole and the playoff leaves a sour taste in the mouth, but shouldn’t detract from a fantastic week in Toronto. Grade: A
Q3. Tyrrell Hatton (-16): A third-round 72 put Hatton behind the eight-ball entering the final round. After becoming a member of the penultimate group on Saturday, the fiery Englishman is in front of the contenders with eyes on posting points 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 misguided drive on the short par-4 8th. It made for one of the funniest moments of the tournament when a volunteer fished his golf ball out of a creek, but it was a pretty big blemish on an otherwise perfect scorecard.
Six back-nine birdies, including four in a row, 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 PGA Tour career, but his weekend in Canada felt like a missed opportunity. With just that success on his resume, Hatton is surely itching for more despite the big results. Grade: A-
Q9. Rory McIlroy (-12): The three-peat is alive until it’s gone. McIlroy carded two front-nine bogeys to lose momentum, and his first birdie of the round didn’t come until the par-5 12th. After entering the Memorial last week with a share of the lead and firing a 75 to finish T7, McIlroy had a chance to make changes. He’s the clear class of this leaderboard, and a victory would give him all the momentum in the world heading into the US Open, where he has four straight top-10 finishes. Grade B
Q20. Matt Fitzpatrick (-8): The reigning US Open champion has one week left on his trophy before he has to give it up. However, don’t be surprised if Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a quiet night at the Los Angeles Country Club. He ranks inside the top 15 in strokes gained off the tee and inside the top 10 in strokes gained en route to another quality start. If the irons come off next week, the Englishman should be in for a major title defense. Grade: B-
Q57. Cameron Young (-1): The sophomore slump continues for last season’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Coming into Canada off back-to-back missed cuts, Young’s main shortcoming was his performance on the greens. He got the putter to cooperate slightly, but missed hitting the ball. The Wake Forest product now heads to the US Open, where he has struggled in his young career despite his major championship; he did not make the cut at the US Open in three attempts. Grade: D