Nick Taylor had won on the PGA Tour before, but not like this.
The 35-year-old even counts one of the PGA Tour’s marquee events, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, as one of his previous two titles, but none mean more than his own national open.
Not since 1954 had a Canadian won the PGA Tour’s only event held in the “Great White North” and that weighed hard on Taylor, especially after an opening-round 75 that left him in a tie for 120th.
He called his wife, Andie.
“My wife gave me a talking to Thursday night. I was just kind of getting in my own way,” he said Saturday. “I knew my game was there, but a little kick in the butt didn’t hurt.”
Taylor, who shot a course-record 63 Saturday, followed it with a 66 Sunday capped by birdies on 17 and 18 in dramatic fashion to post 17 under and eventually force a playoff with Tommy Fleetwood.
He matched Fleetwood’s birdie on the first playoff hole and after the stalemate continued to a fourth hole, Taylor drained a 72-foot eagle putt on the 18th green at Oakdale Golf and Country Club to break the Canadian winless drought at the RBC Canadian Open.
The scene on the 18th green turned into a madhouse as fans stormed the green after the walk-off bomb. The scene was so hectic, security even tackled fellow-Canadian pro Adam Hadwin when he tried to shower the winner in champagne.
Not only did Taylor’s win break the drought for Canadians at their national open, but it also marked the fourth win by Canadians on Tour this season. That’s the most since the Tour started keeping those records in 1983.
“I can’t even describe it. This is the most incredible feeling,” Taylor said after the playoff Sunday. “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.
While the 72-footer prevented Fleetwood from potentially becoming the most hated person in Canada, it does continue a dubious streak for the Englishman. Despite owning six wins on the DP World Tour and coming into the week at No. 23 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he is the second-highest-ranked player without a PGA Tour win. The highest-ranked is second-year PGA tour member Cameron Young (No. 17).
Fleetwood had a chance to win the tournament outright on the 18th hole but hit his drive into the rough and made a controversial decision to lay up. His second was blocked into the thick rough on a steep bank right of the fairway and he did well to make par from there. The quirky 499-yard par-5 was the easiest hole on the course all week, playing more than half-stroke under par.
“I was playing so well and just got a bit fast,” Fleetwood said. “I obviously had my chances starting with the par-5 with an iron off the tee and then in the playoff. But I’m not going to take anything away from Nick. I played with him the first two rounds and he obviously struggled on day one. So he’s played unbelievable from there on in and then amazing moment for him on the last hole.”
Taylor started the day at 11 under, behind a crowd of six golfers in tie for second, including Fleetwood at 12 under. C.T. Pan held the overnight lead by two at 14 under but struggled early and rallied to finish in a tie for third with Tyrrell Hatton and Aaron Rai at 16 under.
Rory McIlroy also started the day at 12 under but never got any momentum and settled for a 72 and T9.
Taylor’s win capped a turbulent week on the PGA Tour in which it announced a shocking merger with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, the primary backer of rival LIV Golf. It was the second straight RBC Canadian Open clouded by controversy around the golf world after LIV launched during the event in 2022.