May 21st, 2024

Nick Taylor, Taylor Pendrith targeting back-to-back RBC Canadian Open titles

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on May 6, 2024.

ANCASTER, Ont. – For nearly seven decades, all of Canada’s male professional golfers had the goal of winning the RBC Canadian Open, the national men’s championship.

Now the figurative pin’s position has been moved and they’re hoping to win it in back-to-back years.

Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., won a playoff at Toronto’s Oakdale Golf and Country Club to win last year’s Canadian Open and end that 69-year drought. Taylor, Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., and a large field of their countrymen are lining up to do it all again at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in three weeks’ time.

“That was amazing last year, and it would be incredible to go back-to-back,” said Pendrith. “I know myself and all the other Canadians on the PGA Tour see it as a huge goal, especially seeing Nick do it last year, it was a big inspiration and knowing that it can be done by a Canadian.

“Hopefully there’s a bunch of us in contention coming down the back nine on Sunday. That’d be pretty exciting.”

Taylor and Pendrith are the top-ranked Canadians on the PGA Tour, having both won in 2024. Taylor was victorious at the WM Phoenix Open on Feb. 11 and Pendrith earned his first PGA Tour title on Sunday at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson. Taylor is now No. 21 on the FedEx Cup standings and Pendrith is 34th.

As long a wait as it was for a Canadian to win the national title – Pat Fletcher was the last to do it in 1954 – it has been even longer since Canadians won it in consecutive years. Albert Murray (1913) and Karl Keffer (1914) were the last homegrown back-to-back champs.

Taylor laughed when asked about the new challenge of consecutive wins for Canadians.

“You lose one question and another is added,” joked Taylor. “I think we’re all going there expecting. hopefully, to compete and try to win again.

“If my win helps take that monkey off the back for people, not have the expectations, I think that’ll help all of us.”

Taylor and Pendrith will be backed up by a large contingent of Canadians.

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford (35th), Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont. (56th), Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont. (69th), Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C. (90th), as well as fellow PGA Tour members Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont. and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., had already committed to joining the field.

More Canadians were announced at a news conference on Wednesday at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., will play in his 31st national championship. Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., the leading player on the Europe-based DP World Tour, was added, as were top players in the PGA Tour’s lower tiers – Myles Creighton of Digby, N.S., Edmonton’s Wil Bateman and Etienne Papineau of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que.

Defending Canadian amateur champion Ashton McCulloch of Kingston, Ont., and Kevin Stinson of Mission, B.C., were also added to the field.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who won the first of back-to-back Canadian Opens in 2019, the last time Hamilton Golf and Country Club hosted the tournament, is also in the field. He is No. 16 in the FedEx Cup standings.

Mary DePaoli, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer for RBC, said that getting McIlroy back in the field was important because he will draw more players to the event.

“I would say as Rory builds out his calendar, he can be discerning but he comes back year after year because he wants to,” she said in the clubhouse at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. “I think that’s as much a testament to everything that all who are a part of the RBC Canadian Open work on because you’re getting one of the world’s best to come back year after year.”

Ireland’s Shane Lowry and England’s Tommy Fleetwood were also added to the Canadian Open field on Wednesday.

Lowry is ranked No. 12 on the PGA Tour following his win with McIlroy at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 28.

Fleetwood was the runner-up at last year’s Canadian Open, losing to Taylor in a four-hole playoff. Fleetwood is ranked 39th on the FedEx Cup standings.

A location for the 2025 Canadian Open has yet to be announced but tournament director Bryan Crawford said one would be named within the next two weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2024.

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