Nick Taylor is still “buzzing” from the 72-foot putt that rolled him straight into Canadian sporting history.
Speaking with CTV News from Los Angeles as he prepares for the upcoming US Open, the 35-year-old admits he didn’t get much sleep after winning the Canadian Open on Sunday. He’s still processing his walk-off putt and how it’s now being heralded as a Canadian heritage moment.
“I don’t know how to take that yet, honestly, I remember those moments when Sidney Crosby scored the gold medal goal. My dad was a massive Blue Jays fan and I watched Joe Carter’s home run for years growing up. To even be mentioned in the same conversation as those two icons give me chills,” Taylor says.
Raised in Abbotsford, BC, Taylor fully dedicated his life to golf at the age of 15. Though, nothing could have prepared him for sinking that Hail Mary putt on home soil to win the Canadian Open.
With a grin, Taylor shares that he wasn’t sure his long putt was going to go in.
“The speed looked good about halfway there, but it was so far away I had no inkling of what was going on.”
Moments later, bedlam broke out at Toronto’s Oakdale Golf and Country Club; Taylor tossed his putter into the air as fans rushed onto the course.
“It’s a fairy-tale type of stuff to make that kind of putt. You dream about it when you’re a young kid, make a putt to win a golf tournament (like) the Canadian Open,” says Taylor.
For decades, Canadian golfers have come oh so close to winning their country’s golf open, but have fallen just short. For Taylor, it took three remarkable rounds, four playoff holes, a rain-soaked 18th green and one deft putting stroke to wash away 69 years of disappointment.
The last Canadian golfer to do it? Pat Fletcher in 1954.
“Most people at the Canadian Open on Sunday weren’t even alive then,” notes Canadian Golf Hall of Fame writer and journalist Lorne Rubenstein, who, as usual, was in attendance at the Canadian Open.
“This will be one of those ‘where was I’ moments in Canadian sports,” notes Rubenstein, who goes on to admit, “I did have a few tears in my eyes when [Taylor] made that putt because it was so unexpected – it was a letting go of all that tension.”
As the ball collapsed into the cup, a nation was waiting for a rose to their feet and a collective tension was released by fans from coast to coast to coast.
“The excitement going on with all the fans (of course) was the greatest experience I’ve ever had. My caddy Dave and I pretty much blacked out and celebrated,” Taylor recounts.
Caught up in the celebration, Taylor’s good buddy and fellow Canadian PGA pro, Adam Hadwin, was mistaken for a fan and tackled to the green while trying to shower the newly minted champion with champagne.
Still laughing about the turn of events, Taylor says he’s spoken with Hadwin since and says “his wife was making fun of him; Adam has taken it with great stride. I was wishing to give him a bear hug, then to see him get tackled…but I gave him a hug later on. It was great that he was there.”
One person missing from the celebration was Taylor’s wife Andie who had just given birth to their second child six weeks ago.
“I’m excited to get home and celebrate with them,” says Taylor, who’s currently committed to playing this weekend at the US Open and the following week at the Travelers Championship.
When it comes to the long game, Taylor’s massive win is almost surely going to be felt for decades, inspiring children across Canada to pick up a club and start dreaming their own dreams.
Taylor admits, “That’s the hardest thing for me to grasp, having that kind of impact over an entire country. But if that’s the case and more kids get into golf then that’s an absolute cherry on top.”
While the mild mannered champion remains in disbelief, the reality is Taylor’s triumph will take its rightful place in Canadian sports lore forever more.