February 28th, 2024

Canadian golf reached new heights in 2023 with more wins than ever and a curse ended

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on December 26, 2023.

Nick Taylor reacts after winning the Canadian Open championship on the fourth playoff hole against Tommy Fleetwood in Toronto on Sunday, June 11, 2023. Taylor's putter flip after winning the RBC Canadian Open was the exclamation point on arguably the best year in Canadian golf history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Nick Taylor’s putter flip after winning the RBC Canadian Open was the exclamation point on arguably the best year in Canadian golf history.

Taylor drained a 72-foot eagle putt to end a four-hole playoff with England’s Tommy Fleetwood at the Canadian national men’s championship on June 11, the first time a Canadian had won the title in 69 years. But Canada’s success on the course went beyond that, with Canadians winning at every level of the professional game including four wins on the PGA Tour and one on the LPGA Tour.

“I think the state of Canadian pro golf, especially on the PGA Tour, has never been better,” said Taylor, the first Canadian to win the RBC Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher did it in 1954. “Our goal, as players, with Golf Canada is to keep that number growing of Tour members.

“The more players that we can get out here, obviously, it gives us a greater chance of winning more and more.”

Taylor, from Abbotsford, B.C., joined Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., and Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., as winners on the PGA Tour in the 2022-23 season. It was the most wins by Canadians in a single PGA Tour campaign to date.

“The camaraderie is great,” said Taylor, whose victory at Toronto’s Oakdale Golf and Country Club was the fourth win by a Canadian in the season. “I feel like we play a lot of practice rounds together, houses often have dinners together, so we all rally together.

“I think we push each other to be better and I think that’s why we’ve continued to get better and reach new heights.”

Conners, who won the Valero Texas Open for a second time on April 2, said that winning is the best feeling you can have in professional golf.

“That was definitely a highlight for me,” said Conners. “I think another highlight, and something that I’m always very proud of, was making it to Eastlake – the Tour Championship – and being in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup rankings and having a chance to win the FedEx Cup.

“Looking back on the year as a whole I would have liked to improve on some things, but making it there is a nice bonus because it means you had a great year.”

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., won the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on Jan. 22 for her 13th victory on the LPGA Tour, the most of any professional player in Canadian golf history regardless of gender.

“It was a little bit up and down year for me,” said Henderson, assessing her 2023. “But it was nice to try to defend my title at the Evian Championship with a runner-up finish this year, it was really fun to be back in contention.

“Then same kind of thing to be in our Tour Championship in November, it’s always a big goal when you start the season is to be in contention to try to win that, that big money and the race, the CME Globe in November.”

Canadian success wasn’t limited to the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour, however.

Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., both won on the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour to earn full-time PGA Tour status in 2024. That means there will be eight Canadians on tour with Silverman and Sloan joining Taylor, Conners, Hughes, Svensson, Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford.

Hamilton’s Alena Sharp won an Epson Tour event and had five top-10 results on the second-tier tour, not missing a cut in 14 tournaments played. She also won Canada’s second-ever golf medal at the Pan American Games, winning bronze in Santiago, Chile.

Sharp once again earned LPGA Tour status through final qualifying, as did Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., and Savannah Grewal of Mississauga, Ont. They’ll join Henderson and Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Ont., on the LPGA Tour in the new year.

Two more Canadians won on the PGA Tour Canada, a feeder circuit for the Korn Ferry Tour, with Etienne Papineau of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., and Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald each claiming a victory. Papineau finished fourth on the season-long points list to earn conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Myles Creighton of Digby, N.S., won on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, another third-tier circuit in the PGA Tour system. Calgary’s Stephen Ames won a remarkable four times on the Champions Tour.

On the amateur side, Lauren Kim of Surrey, B.C. earned the 109th Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship and Ashton McCulloch of Kingston, Ont. won the 118th Canadian Men’s Amateur, marking only the third time both tournaments were won by Canadians in the same year since 2011. Monet Chun of Richmond Hill, Ont., became the first Canadian to make the cut at the Augusta Women’s National Amateur.

With the Paris Olympics coming in July and the Presidents Cup returning to Royal Montreal Golf Club in September, Taylor expects 2024 to be an even bigger year for Canadian golf.

“Those two are at the top of the list of things I want to be involved in, participate in, this coming year,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 26, 2023.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously stated the year was 2024 in the title, instead of 2023.

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