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Golf-Canada Day! Taylor wins playoff to end Canadian Open drought

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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) – Nick Taylor rolled in a stunning 72-foot putt on the fourth playoff hole to win the Canadian Open on Sunday and become the first home-grown winner of the men’s national championship in almost seven decades.

Not since Pat Fletcher in 1954 had a Canadian hoisted the trophy as Taylor ended a day of unrelenting drama by draining the longest putt of his career to deny Englishman Tommy Fleetwood his first PGA Tour win.

“This is for all the guys through the years, this is for my family at home,” said Taylor after ending one of the country’s longest sporting droughts. “To kind of break that curse, if you want to call it is, I’m pretty speechless.

“I don’t think it’s going to sink in for quite some time what happened today.”

When the ball disappeared into the hole, hitting the flagstick topped with a Canadian flag, it triggered a wild scene at rainy Oakdale Golf and Country Club as fans celebrated an eagle putt that was instantly labelled one of the greatest shots in Canadian golf history.

“With the rain coming down, the slope, obviously, we knew it was going to be slow,” said Taylor of the winning putt. “To get it there was, obviously, a bit of a surprise, honestly.

“For that to drop is – it was a huge surprise but an amazing one.”

Among those throwing their arms into the air and charging onto the 18th green were Taylor’s fellow Canadian golfers including Mike Weir, the only Canadian man to win a major.

Weir, who had a chance to end the drought in 2004 only to lose to Vijay Singh in a playoff, said it was a “huge” win.

“A lot of players get to play in their hometown and there’s a lot of pressure but when you are playing for your home country it’s a different level of pressure,” the 2003 Masters champion added.

After an opening round of three-over-par 75, Taylor looked more likely to miss the cut than be standing on the 18th green accepting a trophy.

Afterwards he said he talked with his wife Andie, who gave him a “kick in the butt”.

It was a message the 35-year-old heard loud and clear as he responded with a solid second round five-under 67 and then a course record nine-under 63 on Saturday to surge into contention.

While Taylor’s win brought one long, painful drought to an end another continues with no Canadian-based NHL franchise having won the Stanley Cup for 30 years and counting.

Golf and ice hockey have been linked at the Canadian Open, particularly on the boisterous par-three ‘Rink Hole’, which is set up like an arena.

Taylor was serenaded with the national anthem ‘O Canada’ before taking his tee shot at the hole.

“It was the most incredible atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of and it’s not even close,” said Taylor. “There’s ovations on every single tee and green.

“I knew just how pumped they were and they were trying to put every ounce of energy into it to help me pull it through.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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