By DAVID W. KEEN
Nick Taylor’s victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship was a huge accomplishment for a PGA Tour rookie, but it’s also another sign that Canadian golf is continuing to move in the right direction.
Nick Taylor won his first PGA tournament at the Sanderson Farms Championship, leading a final round charge of 66 to win by two strokes. Taylor, a native of Abbotsford, British Colombia, is the first Canadian-born player to win on tour since Mike Weir in 2007.
It’s obviously a wonderful accomplishment for Taylor, who just earned his tour card in dramatic fashion in September by firing a 63 in his final round at the the Web.com Tour Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Outside of Taylor himself, it also brings attention to Canadian golf as a whole.
Since the first real sustained wave of Canadian golf on the PGA Tour over a decade ago, which featured Stephen Ames (born in Trinidad and Tobago, Ames is a naturalized Canadian), and of course culminated in Mike Weir’s Masters victory in 2003, we’ve seen a second wave approaching.
Graham DeLaet may still be searching for his first PGA Tour victory, but he’s raised his game to a level consistently high enough to have him ranked as high as 36th in the world (currently 48th) and a member of the last President’s Cup team.
DeLaet, at 33, is currently Canada’s best but there’s an exciting crop of talent in the game around him as well. David Hearn may be 36, but it seems he can be added to the late-bloomer category— in each season since 2012 his earnings have been comfortably over $1m.
Along with Taylor, who is only 27, his good friend Adam Hadwin and Roger Sloan, both 28, are two more of Canada’s promising talents. These players continue to improve and are being seen near the tops of leaderboards more and more.
We might not yet be producing the top-end talent that bring in major after major, but as we’ve seen in the golden age of Canadian basketball we’re currently in, it often takes a crop of players to raise the standards in general before we start to see Canadians more consistently at or near the top. Basketball, it shouldn’t be forgotten, also had the benefit of a singular talent in Steve Nash— who you could argue is Canada’s greatest athlete.
As great as it is to see these players week-in, week-out, competing on tour, the excitement would be short-lived without some hope in being able to sustain this level. That’s maybe the largest cause for optimism; as we discussed here during the RBC Canadian Open in July, there’s a group of very young, very hungry Canadian golfers who are beginning to make a name for themselves.
Players like Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., Corey Conners of Listowel, Ontario, Chris Hemmerich of Kitchener, Ontario and Richmiond Hill, Ontario’s Taylor Pendrith— none of whom are older than 23 — are poised to keep Canadian golf in solid shape for years to come.
The exciting question for Canadian golf fans is whether any of them, or perhaps a less heralded young golfer, can make the jump to the upper echelon of golf from contenders to multiple winners, to major winners to multiple-major winners.
It’s a long, hard road to that point but let’s make sure we take the time to enjoy and appreciate the talented players we have on tour.