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Ontario, June 12 – Chinese Taipei’s CT Pan fell one shot shy of joining a playoff at the Canadian Open on Sunday as a tied third finish maintained his momentum following a recent return from a lengthy wrist injury.
Holding an overnight two-shot lead, the 31-year-old Pan closed with a 2-under 70 at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto as local favourite Nick Taylor sank a sensational 72-foot eagle conversion at the fourth extra hole to defeat England’s Tommy Fleetwood and send the home crowds into raptures.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the reigning FedExCup champion, fell short in his bid for a three-peat with a closing 72 leaving him in tied ninth at the US$9 million PGA TOUR event.
Pan was disappointed he failed to secure a second career PGA TOUR win, although the high finish ensured a second successive top five result following a solo fourth at the recent AT&T Byron Nelson. He went out in 38 and despite a strong finish where he birdied four of the closing five holes, the Asian star came up short at the end.
“It’s still a very good week considering I switched three hotels. I did not sleep well the first couple nights. But considering that, I still played great out there. So pretty happy with that. Final grouping was probably my first time. I did not start well but a lot of lessons to learn from that. I played solid. I gave myself a lot of opportunities out there on the back nine. That’s all you can do,” said Pan, who held the 54-hole lead for the first time in his career.
He conceded nerves got the better of him early on and reckons the lessons learnt will put him in good stead as he looks to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, limited to the top-70 players from the FedExCup standings. Pan moved up to 104th position this week after being outside the top-200 when he returned to action following a five-month layoff due to a left wrist injury.
“I was nervous. And that’s good. That means I care a lot. Just having a hard time to find my rhythm and a lot of in between club distances on the front nine or the first 14 holes. Even the read is kind of tough. Just can’t leave myself in a bad spot, even for the birdie putts. It’s a nonstop working, learning process in golf. So I will keep learning,” said Pan, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games bronze medallist.
Taylor, 35, became the first Canadian to win his home Open since 1954 after he converted the longest putt of his career in extra time. It delivered his third PGA TOUR victory, and first since winning the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “This is unbelievable. I can’t even say anything about this,” said Taylor after his snaky 72-foot putt on the 18th hole sent the home crowds into wild celebrations.
“I can’t even describe it. This is the most incredible feeling. The fans were unbelievable all day. Every green, every tee box I was getting ovations and to make those last two putts to give myself a chance to do that, I’m speechless. I just tried to keep my head down out there. I didn’t look at a board until probably 17. I knew bogeying 16 with probably the atmosphere I was probably at best tied, maybe one back. I saw the board on 17. Knew I needed to birdie at least one coming in. So to make that on 17 and I got redemption on 18, because I screwed up the first day and I got it back,” added the Canadian, who closed with a 66 for a 17-under 271 total.
Fleetwood rued a missed opportunity on the par-5 18th hole in regulation play as his hopes for a first PGA TOUR win ended in dramatic fashion. He was tied for the lead on 17-under but scrambled to save par and headed into a playoff. “I had my chances, really. It wasn’t to be this time. But, yeah, congratulations to him. I played well. Obviously the last was disappointing. Missed the fairway off the tee after playing 16 and 17 so, yeah, I had my chances and didn’t take them,” said Fleetwood, who settled for his fifth career runner-up finish on the PGA TOUR.
China’s Carl Yuan, the 36-hole leader, finished tied 18th after a closing 70 for his best finish this season while Korea’s SH Kim came in joint 25th with a 71 as he moved to 71st position on the FedExCup point list.