Canadian Nick Taylor, a senior at Washington and No. 3 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Player Rankings, carried out his duties as an Olympic torchbearer for the Winter Games in Vancouver on Feb. 7 in his hometown of Abbottsford, British Columbia.
“Once in a lifetime,” Taylor said.
Original plans called for Taylor to carry the torch in Merritt, a small town two hours from Abbottsford, but a last-minute change allowed him to run the 300 meters in front of his hometown crowd Sunday night.
The change made it a little easier for Washington coach Matt Thurmond to juggle the team’s travel schedule and for Thurmond to make the three-hour road trip to Abbottsford to watch.
Two days earlier, Taylor, Thurmond and the rest of the Huskies had been in Hawaii, where they finished runner-up at the Amer Ari Invitational; Taylor tied for fourth individually.
“It wasn’t quite what I expected,” said Taylor, a former Canadian Junior and Canadian Men’s Amateur champion, who was inducted into the Abbottsford Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. “There were people out on the streets cheering. I was the next-to-last person to carry the torch before it entered into a stadium with 12,000-14,000 fans waiting.”
According to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Web site, 12,000 torchbearers will carry the torch as it moves through 1,037 communities across Canada. Also on that list: Country singer Shania Twain and hockey great Gordie Howe. The torch is 37.125 inches tall and weighs 3.5 pounds.
In an e-mail to Golfweek, Taylor’s father, Jay, wrote: “It was an incredible experience for one and all... We had the opportunity to buy Nick’s torch. Nick’s Mom (Darlene) is a school teacher and it has been held high by many a little hand in the last couple of days. It will head down to UW next for a lap through the athletic department.”
Last year, Taylor won the Sahalee Players Amateur, lost in the final of the U.S. Public Links, tied for 36th at the U.S. Open, tied for ninth at the NCAA Championship and tied for third at the Canadian Amateur.
Washington plays Feb. 14-16 in the Battle at the Beach at Pelican Hills Golf Course in Newport, Calif. Golfweek.com will be on site and have complete coverage throughout the event.