O Canada: Rookie Nick Taylor captures first win at Sanderson Farms
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Canada’s long drought is over — thanks to Nick Taylor, who fired a final-round, six-under 66 en route to a two-shot victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi. The rookie and graduate of the Tour overcame a four-shot deficit on Sunday to become the first Canadian-born player since Mike Weir in 2007 to win a PGA Tour event.

“It’s kind of hard to believe that I’m in that category now,” Taylor said.

Taylor caught the leaders as he made the turn and then broke free of the tightly-bunched scoreboard with three consecutive birdies on nos. 13-15. Next, he drained a par-saving putt from nine feet on no. 16. Despite a three-putt bogey on the 18th, he still won with a comfortable cushion.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a summer,” Taylor told Golf Channel after his victory. “Six months ago, I was struggling but I kind of kept at it, kind of got hot and the putter started cooperating. Today I putted unbelievable … it’s pretty surreal and a shock but I am certainly happy with it.”

Taylor was nearly flawless on the greens, needing only 27 putts.

“I putted unbelievable today,” he said in his post-win presser. “I putted great the first two days. Yesterday, struggled a bit, but worked on it last night. And the putts seemed to drop my way.”

Taylor kicked off his round with a birdie putt to get his confidence going. Then, he rolled in a six-footer for par on the second hole to keep the momentum moving forward. He also made four birdie putts from outside of 15 feet.

“Going into the day, I felt good about my game,” said Taylor. “But until it happened, you didn’t really expect it or kind of know ‑‑ it’s very surreal.”

I’m sure some of you are wondering, “Who the heck is Nick Taylor?” But if you followed his college golf career at University of Washington (or played a casual round with him at Sahalee as I did in 2009), then you always knew he was full of potential. He was also the top-ranked amateur in the world for 21 consecutive weeks in 2009.

The 26-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C. secured his PGA Tour card in dramatic manner at the Tour Championship in September by posting a final-round 63. Taylor struggled a bit on the Tour last season, making only 13 of 24 cuts. He earned three top-10 finishes, with his best being a T6 at the Panama Claro Championship back in March. His form turned around when he started rolling the flatstick better toward the end of the season.

“The putter was the biggest issue,” said Taylor.  “I felt like I was hitting it decent and just getting nothing out of my rounds (last season). I’d shoot a 71, which could have been 67 or could have been a 65 with a day like today.  And those rounds where you kind of have to grind it out, where 75 is a 70.

“So it was frustrating.  I thought I was playing well and wasn’t getting anything out of my rounds.  And I started putting well around Boise, which is just I think five, six tournaments left in the year and kind of rolled that in the playoffs and it extended from there.”

Now, after winning a Tour event in just his 13th career start (only his 7th as a professional), he’s exempt through the 2016-2017 season.

“I like roosters now,” Taylor said, smiling. “It’s my favorite animal.”