PGA TOUR RBC Canadian Open

All eyes on Nick Taylor at RBC Canadian Open

Nick Taylor
Nick Taylor (Gary Yee/ Golf Canada)

In June of 2023, Nick Taylor put his name into the history books by sinking a 72-foot eagle putt on the fourth playoff hole at the Oakdale Golf & Country Club.  By doing so, he became the first Canadian to win Canada’s National Open since Pat Fletcher accomplished the feat back in 1954.

As the 2024 edition of the RBC Canadian Open gets underway, all eyes will be on the 36-year-old from Abbotsford, British Columbia as he sets out to defend his title on Canadian soil.

The defending champion finds himself part of a marquee trio for the opening two rounds, which includes 2019 and 2022 tournament champion, Rory McIlroy, and Taylor Pendrith – who became the most recent Canadian to win on the PGA TOUR after capturing the CJ Cup Byron Nelson at the beginning of the month.

“It’s a huge event and to see Nick win it last year was unbelievable; it was super inspiring,” said Pendrith at his pre-tournament presser. “It was amazing to see him do it and end the drought in that fashion. I still get goose bumps watching the video.”

“It’s a major for us. It’s the one time we get to be here in our home country and play in front of the home fans, so it’s a big deal for the players and the spectators and the whole country,” he added.

McIlroy says he feels right at home competing in front of the Canadian golf fans. The two-time tournament champion recalls his first victory on Canadian soil back in 2019.

“The place was buzzing. The Raptors were about to win an NBA championship. Yeah, it was my first Canadian Open and I was blown away by just the enthusiasm that the fans have and it was such a great atmosphere to to play in,” recalled McIlroy, who attended game two of the 2019 NBA finals featuring the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors.

The former world number 1 from Ireland admits that while he hasn’t been to a live hockey game, he believes the Canadian golf fans bring that hockey energy to the golf course.

“Full disclosure here, and this isn’t probably a good thing to say in Canada, but I’ve never been to a hockey game, but I would imagine that that’s sort of what it feels like. It feels like you’re playing in that sort of hockey environment, especially with the Rink hole,” said McIlroy.

“I’m very, very fortunate that I feel like I get good support most places that we go play but it’s just for whatever reason it’s just a little bit extra here in Canada.”

While Pendrith and McIlroy will receive plenty of support, the man who will be the centre of attention as play gets underway is the defending champion, who ended Canada’s 69 year drought last June.

To commemorate Taylor’s historic achievement, Golf Canada has created a limited edition Nick Taylor bobblehead which will is available for sale with proceeds going to support the First Tee program.

Taylor says he’s had the chance to replay his clutch 72-foot eagle putt over and over – but watching it never gets old.

“I’ve seen the replay enough now that I kind of have that visual almost now instead of my own perception. Yeah, I’ve seen so many angles now, it’s really cool to see different people’s reaction. I feel when my wife and I see it we find a different person to look at and see how they reacted which is pretty fun,” he noted.

Taylor says his victory last June in Canada has given him more confidence which carried over to his win at the TPC Scottsdale in early February.

“It’s taken work to be able to get in that mental state of focusing on that present moment. When I look back at the Canadian Open, I take confidence from that which only helped me when I was at Phoenix,” he said.

As the defending champion and the first Canadian to win our Canada’s National Open in 69 years, it’s understandable that all eyes will be on Taylor as play gets underway. But it is often said, pressure is a privilege, and mature and confident 36-year-old appears poised and eager to embrace the challenge.

“The biggest change I would say since last year is obviously being recognized more in context of a golf course. Now, especially at the Canadian Open – so yeah, it’s a lot of pictures and signatures,” said Taylor.

“I think our crowds are going to be pretty big the next couple of days with Rory – who always has that following, and playing with Pendy. So, I’m looking forward to that a lot.”