TORONTO, Canada (AFP) — Nick Taylor sank a stunning 72-foot eagle putt on Sunday’s fourth playoff hole to defeat England’s Tommy Fleetwood and become the first home-nation player since 1954 to win the Canadian Open.
Taylor ended the 69-year drought for Canadians at their championship after a tension-packed extra session with a dramatic putt on the par-5 18th hole at Oakdale for his third career US PGA Tour title.
“I’m speechless,” Taylor said.
“This is for all the guys that are here. This is for my family at home. I’m speechless. This is the most incredible feeling ever.”
Taylor was in tears as spectators raced out of the grandstands and onto the green to celebrate the victory after he had fired a six-under par 66 to match Fleetwood on 17-under 271 for 72 holes.
“This was incredible,” Taylor said.
“This is an unbelievable moment. It was such a special day. This was amazing.”
Spectators cheered him all around the course, giving him the energy to outlast Fleetwood.
“Every hole they were egging you on,” he said.
“Then in the playoff when the rain was coming down, it gives you the energy to keep going, keep focused. This is for all of them.”
After each man birdied the 18th to open the playoff, parred it on the second extra hole and parred the par-3 ninth, the playoff returned to 18 for the emotion-packed finish.
World No. 23 Fleetwood found a fairway bunker and blasted out short of the green while 69th-ranked Taylor was on the green but 72 feet from the hole.
Fleetwood dropped his approach 12 feet from the hole and Taylor then rolled in the longest putt of his PGA career to become the first Canadian to be a Canadian Open champion since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
“I had a similar line in the second playoff hole,” Taylor said.
“I knew it was going to be slow with how much rain we’ve had. I wanted to get as close as I can because Tommy, I thought he’s going to make it.
“For that to go in, it was unbelievable.”
Fleetwood, a six-time European Tour winner, settled for his fifth PGA runner-up finish. No Englishman has won the Canadian Open since 1981.
“Nice moment for Nick and the fans here,” Fleetwood said.
“It’s great to be a part of that. I had my chances, really. It wasn’t to be this time. But congratulations to him.”
Fleetwood will try to pick himself up for next week’s US Open at Los Angeles Country Club.
“I had my chances and didn’t take them,” Fleetwood said.
“I just have to keep practicing, keep playing.”
“Have to take the positives from it and start practicing tomorrow. I got a major next week. So can’t dwell on it too much.”
Taylor, who set a course record of 63 on Saturday, had his right foot in a bunker when he punched from greenside sloped rough to five feet on the first playoff hole at 18. But he watched Fleetwood make a tense 20-foot birdie putt and then sank his putt to extend the playoff.
Rain began as they played 18 again,
Fleetwood sending his second shot into the right grandstand but recovering to have an 11-foot birdie putt to win only to miss and stretch the drama.
At the par-3 ninth, Taylor landed 14 feet from the hole on the right fringe while Fleetwood was 13 feet away on the green. Taylor’s putt came up short and he tapped in. Fleetwood missed left and tapped in and back they went to 18.
England’s Tyrrell Hatton birdied the last four holes to shoot 64 and share third on 272 with countryman Aaron Rai, who shot 67, and 54-hole leader Pan Cheng-tsung of Taiwan.
Erik Cole, who birdied the last four holes to match Taylor’s course record 63, shared sixth on 274 with fellow American Mark Hubbard. England’s Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, was eighth on 275.
Two-time defending champion Rory McIlroy shot 72 to share ninth on 276.