It was a momentous day in Toronto on Sunday as Nick Taylor became the first Canadian to win his national open since Pat Fletcher in 1954, beating Englishman Tommy Fleetwood in a playoff by holing a 72 foot putt for the win.
Taylor shot a final round 66 at Oakdale with a clutch birdie putt on the 18th hole to reach 17 under par for the tournament on his way to winning his 3rd event on the PGA Tour in what seems to be a golden age of Canadian golf. Taylor is the 4th player from Canada to win on the tour this year after wins for Corey Conners, Mackenzie Hughes and Adam Svensson. You could see what a tight knit group the Canadian guys on tour are with Conners, Mike Weir and Adam Hadwin supporting Taylor closely in the playoff, the latter feeling the full force of security after a Ray Lewis-esque tackle after the winning putt in the playoff.
Tommy Fleetwood is getting closer to his first win on the PGA Tour and after his birdie on 17 may have been forgiven for thinking this was his time. However a poor iron off the tee on 18 left him with a conundrum of whether or not to attempt to go for the green with a 5 wood, a choice it looked like Fleetwood was making. The issue Fleetwood had was there was a back up of players on 18 so he had to wait a little longer to go for the green and had more time to think about the club choice, and after a conversation with his caddie Ian Finnis, decided to lay up and once again missed the fairway and ended up in the right rough.
This was a poor play in my eyes from Fleetwood as I do feel a player of his quality would’ve been able to land the ball on the green and then would have been able to get in for a birdie after leading the putting statistics on the week. There seemed to be a little bit of tension between player and caddie whilst on the 18th showing there had been a bit of a disagreement in to the play of laying up instead of going for the green, with Fleetwood probably preferring to go for the green in 2. Fleetwood did make a par forcing Taylor in to a playoff for the title.
You could tell that nerves were on show in the playoff as both players were not playing like two players who were -17 for the week, missing fairways and greens, while some unconvincing putting made the playoff go to a 4th hole. Taylor was on the edge of the fairway but found a divot off the tee whilst the Ryder Cup specialist found the left hand bunker, putting both players in a tricky situation on their next play.
Fleetwood once again opted for the lay up whilst Taylor found the front portion of the green after an excellent shot from a tricky lie. An ok wedge shot from Fleetwood meant he had a good look at birdie. He would have a good read on the putt from a prior effort on the 2nd playoff hole where he slightly missed it to the left hand side.
Taylor stood over a 72 foot putt which on the face of it was no given for a 2 putt, but with possibly the best putt you will see on tour this year, he nailed it into the middle of the cup sending the crowd wild and providing one of the funniest moments of the year as poor Adam Hadwin was mistaken for a fan and was tackled by security, only to be saved by Taylor’s caddie who spotted Hadwin through the bodies.