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After Open victory, Taylor ready for new season

Nick Taylor Nick Taylor - The Canadian Press

Seven months after he hit the most memorable shot in Canadian golf history, Nick Taylor rarely goes a day without being reminded of it.

The 72-foot putt that found the bottom of the cup on the fourth playoff hole to give him the RBC Canadian Open title over Tommy Fleetwood is indelibly inked in his memory and that of hundreds of thousands of those who witnessed it.

It doesn’t matter if he’s at the grocery store or on the range at a tournament, he’s likely to be stopped by someone wanting to share that moment.

“There haven’t been many days,” Taylor said with a chuckle. “It’s funny. People come up to me and tell me what they remember, where they were, the atmosphere they were in. It’s a great reminder and I never mind it.”

He’s also watched the replay of the putt so many times that he now sees it in his mind’s eye from the television camera’s standpoint rather than what was his own personal view.

As great as that finish was, that was then and there is a new campaign underway.

Taylor is playing in his third event of the year this week at The American Express. So far he’s logged a tie for 52nd at the season-opening Sentry and a tie for seventh at last week’s Sony Open. That represents a solid start and one the Abbottsford, B.C., product wants to build on.

Taylor hit pause on the PGA Tour schedule after two events in October, teeing it up just one more time in the Grant Thornton Invitational in December, an unofficial mixed-team event. He and Ruoning Yin partnered for an eighth-place finish.

His down time wasn’t entirely without golf. He did reset his goals for 2024 and, along with his team, identified some of the areas he wants to improve. Topping last year, will be a big step.

“It'll be difficult certainly, having the season that I had last year, winning a tournament that I've wanted to win for such a long time,” said Taylor “So, I’ll go back to the basics I did last year and work on things that I can control from the mental side to anything in my golf swing. I've had a few months to have a break and get ready for the season, so that’s the strategy.”

Another adjustment Taylor is making this year is on his schedule. In past years, he’s had to be more flexible with where he played, being outside the exemption category which allowed a player to tee it up in any event. But this year, he’ll be in that elite group that can go anywhere it pleases.

It’s definitely a nice benefit to have and it comes after his best year as a professional. Not only did he win the RBC Canadian Open, but he added another five top-10 finishes and ended the year in 27th place on the FedEx Cup standings. His previous best finish on that list was 48th and over the past seven years, he’s only been inside the top 100 one other time.

And the money? He won $6.2 million, which is $800,000 more than the previous seven seasons combined.

“It’s the first time that every tournament I want to play in, I’m going to play in,” he said of his schedule. “I’m going to stick to that, take my breaks and work on my game at home as opposed to on the road. I’m in all four majors, the Players and obviously the big one, the Canadian Open, so there’s a lot of good events ahead.”

His return to the national championship will no doubt come with the most attention, pressure and celebration and he admitted that there’s probably no way he can prepare for what lays ahead. His winning pose has even been incorporated into the tournament’s official logo.

He also has a couple of other dates circled on his calendar: the Olympics in Paris in August and the Presidents Cup in Montreal in September. He knows that it will be a tight race for any member of the Canadian contingent to make one or both of the teams that will wear the Maple Leaf.

“Growing up the Olympics wasn't really a reality,” he said. “But since the first one back in Rio, I've definitely wanted to be a part of it. And this may be my best chance this year. A lot of us are playing very, very well competing for those two spots. So, it's going to be difficult. I feel that if we can all push each other to try to get in that hopefully that'll push us all to get in the President's Cup.”

Whether it’s the Olympics, Presidents Cup or a major championship, Taylor knows he can draw on what is easily the biggest win of his career. The RBC Canadian Open can be a gift that keeps on giving.

“I think it's a good for me to get in the majors, bigger events,” he stated. “I can build off of that [Canadian Open win]. I can't imagine there would be a whole lot more pressure than probably what I felt that day or that week. So, I can build off of that and use that.”

Of course, if he forgets anything about that week, he won’t have to worry; they’ll be someone to come along and remind him of that special moment.