"Glorious and free," was the call from legendary broadcaster Jim Nantz after Nick Taylor holed a 72-foot eagle putt on the fourth playoff hole Sunday night at Oakdale Golf and Country Club to give Canada its first RBC Canadian Open winner in 69 years. Immediately sending the thousands of fans green side and millions of fans across the country into a frenzy, he was met by his fellow countrymen, including Corey Conners, Graham Delaet, former Masters champion Mike Weir, and Adam Hadwin, who was tackled by security after running up to his good friend with a bottle of champagne to celebrate the historic moment. Taylor, who closed out his final round with birdies on 17 and 18, carded three straight rounds in the 60s to get into the clubhouse at 17 under. This was after a 75 on Thursday that had him threatening to miss the cut.
With Tommy Fleetwood hot on his heels all afternoon, the current world number 21 was looking to spoil the homecoming in search of his first PGA Tour victory. Benefitting from his stellar short game and clutch putting, the 32-year-old appeared to be in control after he picked up shots on 16 and 17 to head to the 18th tee all square with Taylor. Needing just a birdie on the short par 5 to win the national Open, the 13-year veteran missed the fairway off the tee while hitting a poor layup into the rough. He then scrambled to make par and send the championship into a playoff.
Returning to 18 as the opening playoff hole, Taylor appeared to have the early edge. After missing the green with his second shot, the University of Washington product got his ball up and down from the rough to just five feet to put pressure on his opponent, who rolled his pitch 20 feet past the hole. Nevertheless, Fleetwood would sink the long attempt and make birdie to continue the tournament in a true display of clutch putting.
Both players matched each other with a birdie and a par on the next two playoff holes. The duo would then return to the 18th tee again as they looked to crown a winner. With visions of Weir's loss to Vijay Singh in 2004 on the minds of the millions of Canadians who looked on, the 53-year-old came close to snapping the long drought before he fell in a playoff.
Determined to make history as they teed off on 18 for the fourth time, Fleetwood's ball would land in a fairway bunker, while Taylor's landed in the first cut of the fairway, allowing the now three-time PGA Tour winner to attack the green in two and set up the long eagle putt. Meanwhile, Fleetwood laid up to set up a 15-foot putt for birdie while putting pressure on the Canadian. However, that was as close as the Englishman would get as Taylor knocked in the longest putt of his career in true storybook fashion, a 72-footer for eagle to win the national Open and send the crowd around the green into a frenzy.
Surely to go down as one of the most iconic moments in Canada's sports history, the impact Nick Taylor's win will have on kids all across the nation will be felt for years, similarly to the way Weir inspired this generation of Canucks on the PGA Tour with his win at the Masters Tournament in 2003. Furthermore, it gives Canadian golf a defining moment for centuries to come. People from coast to coast will ask each other where they were when Taylor knocked in the putt heard around the country on the now famous 18th green at Oakdale Golf and Country Club. Not bad for a kid from Winnipeg, Manitoba.