Nick Taylor was exhausted after his four-hole sudden death playoff where he edged out England’s Tommy Fleetwood to win the RBC Canadian Open. After an hours-long marathon of celebrations and media obligations, he was starving so he and his family went to the nearest McDonalds drive-thru.
His phone, plugged in after getting blown up with calls and text messages following the historic victory, started ringing. On the screen was the name Wayne Gretzky.
“Now, I’ve never met Wayne before, so we reversed out of the drive-thru and I chatted with him for two or three minutes,” said Taylor on Monday. “That was really nice, but surreal.
“For someone like that to call, let alone want to reach out and say congrats, that’s really cool.”
That chat with the legendary hockey player while in a fast-food joint’s parking lot is emblematic of Taylor’s new life.
He has quiet moments where he’s just a Mario Kart-loving family man, and then unreal situations where he’s the centre of attention, greeted like a conquering hero after ending a 69-year stretch of futility by Canadian golfers at the men’s national championship.
Taylor was in Toronto on Monday for one of those more surreal days, doing a host of media appearances including being interviewed on Sportsnet ahead of a Blue Jays game. Sitting in the lobby of RBC’s headquarters before a meeting with the executives of one of his biggest sponsors, Taylor gestured to a wraparound screen above the entrance to the bank branch that was showing a video of his climactic 72-foot putt to win the Canadian Open.
“Hey, there I am,” said Taylor with a chuckle.
“It has been cool to be at events with players caddies, everyone in the golf world. coming up to both of us, (caddy Dave Markle) and I, to congratulate us, saying they were watching,” said Taylor. “Countless comments about how it was one of the most exciting things they’d ever seen.
“Even people who aren’t Canadian saying ‘I was in tears,’ like that impact I think is very unique from that standpoint.”
And that experience is something that Taylor is still processing two months later as he balances being the father of two young children and playing in PGA Tour events.
“My perspective of, say, the putt, has changed with seeing the video so many times, my perception is almost now more the video rather than me being in it,” said Taylor, who is from Abbotsford, B.C. “I think being at home has helped that reflection process because golf is funny, you have an amazing moment like that but within three days you’re playing another tournament and you’re trying to put that in the rear-view mirror and focus on the new event.
“But being able to soak it up, be at home a little bit, be with family and friends, has been as part of processing it.”
Taylor is taking a short break from competition after he made his British Open debut. He qualified for the final major of the men’s golf season based on his ranking in the FedEx Cup standings, which got a huge boost from his Canadian Open win.
As a result, he will not play in this week’s Wyndham Championship.
Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., is the highest-ranked Canadian in the field, sitting 37th in the FedEx Cup standings. Adam Hadwin (39th) of Abbotsford, Mackenzie Hughes (44th) of Dundas, Ont., Taylor Pendrith (113th) of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Michael Gligic (207th) of Burlington, Ont., comprise the Canadian contingent at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.