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The man behind the most famous tackle in golf finally speaks


It’s hard to think that a tackle made not on a football field but on the 18th green of the RBC Canadian Open was perhaps the most famous takedown of 2023.

It may also be hard to believe that the man who made that tackle has stayed in the background, preferring not to be a part of what became a massive viral moment.

Moments after Nick Taylor drained a 72-foot putt to become the first Canadian in 69 years to win the national championship, mayhem broke out on the green. Volunteers, police and security tried to handle a rush of fans, tournament officials and media who came on to the green to celebrate.

One of the rushers was Adam Hadwin, Taylor’s long-time pal, who tried to give the new champion a champagne shower. But before he could get within spraying distance, a security guard moved deftly around the celebrating golfer and brought Hadwin down to the ground.

Video of the takedown was shown with as much frequency as the putt, racking up millions of views and setting off a flood of memes.

Hadwin has spoken about the incident frequently and rarely goes a week without someone in the crowd making a remark about it. But the security guard has remained quiet.

Until now.

In an exclusive interview with TSN, the guard spoke for the first – and what he says will be the only – time about the tackle and what has happened since. He chose not to give his name as he doesn’t want any attention. Despite his physical presence, he is a quiet and reserved individual. So, it was decided we’d use Mr. X as his identification.

“I remember everything vividly,” he said, reflecting on the infamous moment. “Just like it was yesterday.”

Mr. X has worked the security detail at numerous RBC Canadian Opens and is regarded as one of the best at his job. He is a constant presence at other sporting events and concerts around Toronto, and other outings of all kinds where he helps provide safety. His superiors laud his work ethic, and he often gets the toughest jobs, such as on the 18th hole at last year’s tournament.

But that final day last year was a different one. The playoff between Taylor and Tommy Fleetwood saw a massive and, in a few cases, unruly crowd fighting to get a glimpse of what they hoped would be Taylor becoming the first Canadian in 69 years to win the national title.

The first two holes of the playoff ran smoothly, but on the third one the players moved to the ninth hole. That led to a wild chase of fans scrambling to get a vantage point. They ran across the 18th hole, over fairways, through bunkers, swarming the putting surface. And when that hole was tied, they did it all again in reverse.

There were no major problems although Mr. X recalls a few fans who needed to be ushered behind the ropes and some others who may had a few too many libations.

But they all settled down when Taylor stood over his now famous 72-foot putt.

It was remarkable that so many people could be so quiet. As Taylor and the fans tracked the ball, Mr. X kept his eyes on the crowd. When the putt dropped, it set off one of the wildest wild celebrations and perhaps the most famous tackle in golf history.

“I was on the other side of Nick and his caddie,” Mr. X recalled, “which meant I had to come around him. There were a lot of people moving and I saw this person heading directly towards Nick. I saw it as if it was in slow motion, this guy coming towards Nick with a bottle and no credentials.”

Mr. X moved quickly, like a defensive back spotting the halfback getting a handoff. He intercepted him and the two ended up on the ground.

“It was a soft takedown,” Mr. X pointed out with a chuckle. “His feet never left the ground.”

The security guard and the golfer lay intertwined on the ground for only a second or two. Taylor’s caddie, David Markle, saw what was happening and paused his celebration to try to alert Mr. X that he had taken down one of Canada’s greatest golfers.

“Bryan Crawford [RBC Canadian Open tournament director] came over and it was over quickly,” said Mr. X. “We got up and laughed, said sorry to each other, and it was all over.”

Hadwin’s memory of the incident was less about the security guard and more about the police officer who followed.

“I do remember specifically the officer that came behind the security guard, telling me to drop the bottle,” said Hadwin. “I remember those words and I have an appreciation for authority. When I watch the video, you can see the cop come in behind and you can see my hands come off the bottle.”

Once the cop was made aware of his mistake, he was nice enough to hand the bottle back so Hadwin could continue with the champagne.

But the lasting effect on the tackle for Hadwin was not on the 18th green but in what followed. At every tournament, every week and almost every day, he’s known as the guy who got tackled.

“It’s been a full year now, and it feels like every destination we’ve gone to, everybody has to get it out because they haven’t had the chance to,” he said. “Hopefully now that we’ve run the full schedule I won’t hear as much about it. Just a funny moment in golf that certainly raised my profile in the golf community.”

Those who know Mr. X have also had some fun with the takedown on 18. His friends and co-workers who know what he did are able to laugh about the incident.

“I got lots of ribbing and it was all positive support,” he stated. “I’m glad it got some notoriety for everyone . . . . but me.”

Mr. X and Hadwin hadn’t crossed paths since the tackle that went worldwide. But on Tuesday, as the golfer was leaving the course, he noticed a security guard by the front entrance. He did a double take, realized who it was and pulled over.

“I rolled down my window,” said Hadwin. “As soon as he recognized me, we both had huge smiles on our faces. I’ve said this from the beginning. I wasn’t hurt, I didn’t have any effects from it. I certainly don’t blame him; it was just one of those incidents. We shook hands, shared a few laughs and I got him to pose for a picture with me.”

For his part, Mr. X said he doesn’t want any attention from the takedown. He prefers to be in the background. He was just doing his job as he will again this week.

“I’ll be around this year,” he stated, “but maybe I’ll be in disguise.”