Taylor Durham (Golf Canada photo)
by David McPherson, for AmateurGolf.com
Tom Petty sang, “the waiting is the hardest part.” Taylor Durham agrees.
After the amateur golfer from North Vancouver, British Columbia shot a five-under 65 in the first regional qualifier for the 2023 RBC Canadian Open, he waited six hours before learning his score was the best out of 124 competitors — enough to make a lifelong dream a reality.
“People were coming up to me and saying, ‘Don’t worry, you got it!’” recalls Durham when we connect via Zoom a day before he was set to fly to Toronto to prepare for the PGA TOUR’s lone Canadian stop this coming week at Oakdale Golf & Country Club. “Probably 60 per cent of that field have shot 65 before, or had the ability to, so you never know what is going to happen. You need to play well, but you also need some luck from the rest of the field not having their absolute best day. It was a long wait, but it was worth it!”
On the driving range, early on that memorable May day, Durham, and his buddy who caddied for him, discussed what score they thought might give them a chance to qualify; they both said 65. To believe he might shoot that number is a different story.
“I just wanted to get the tournament juices flowing again,” he recalls of this experience, which was his first event of the 2023 amateur season. “I was even par through 8 holes and then I made six birdies in a seven hole stretch. That is when I started to feel like I might have a chance. My caddy helped me stay focussed and just take it shot by shot and hole by hole.”
Unlike qualifying for the U.S. Open — where one needs to play well for 54 holes, locally and regionally to make the USGA’s annual major PGA TOUR event — Golf Canada’s national championship has regional qualifiers that if you win, and the field is 120 or more players, you get an automatic exemption. On May 15, in an unexpected result, Durham nabbed one of these coveted spots at the B.C regional Qualifier at Ledgeview Golf Club in his hometown of Abbotsford.
“It’s not typical for an amateur to win one of these events, but it’s pretty special and a really unique way to get a spot in the championship,” says Mary Beth McKenna, Director, Amateur Championships and Rules for Golf Canada.
Taylor Durham's goal is to have fun in his first Tour event
Durham works full-time as a commercial real estate agent, so he squeezes in tournaments whenever his schedule allows. The 29-year-old grew up playing soccer until he discovered golf at age 10 at his local muni. Golf quickly supplanted soccer as his favorite sport. He joined historic Marine Drive Golf Club in his 20s.
“You never know when your peak will come,” says the self-described late-bloomer.
Durham acknowledged that he continues putting in the work — bettering his golf swing and lowering his scores one day at a time. Before qualifying for this week’s PGA TOUR event, the biggest tournament Durham had ever competed in was the 2022 U.S. Mid Amateur.
Durham heads into the RBC Canadian Open brimming with confidence after winning the Marine Drive Amateur at his home club last week. On Saturday, Durham plans to play an unofficial practice round at Oakdale G&CC before the Open begins.
Competing in his first PGA TOUR event, he hopes to play well and keep the fairy tale going, but he also remains realistic. First, and foremost, he wants to soak in every minute and enjoy all that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offers. His friend is accompanying him to caddie again and the pair hope to recapture some of the magic of their partnership from last month. Durham is also excited that a lot of his family are flying in to cheer him on and share in this dream.
“My priority is on fun,” he concludes, adding that he hopes to take in a couple of Toronto Blue Jays games and experience some of the fine dining Canada’s biggest city offers while in TO. “I know it will go by really fast so just want to take it one day at a time and see what happens; hopefully I can get some good swings out there.”
ABOUT THE RBC Canadian Open
First played in 1904, this is the third oldest
continuously running tournament on the PGA TOUR,
after The Open Championship and the U.S. Open.
Lee Trevino (1971) and Tiger Woods (2000) are the
only golfers to win the Triple Crown, winning the U.S.
Open, British Open and Canadian Open in the same
Like the U.S. Open, amateurs can gain entry into the
event through Regional Qualifying (held in May) and
Final Qualifying on the Sunday before the event.
However, players who win a regional
qualifier with 120 players or more can skip Final
Qualifying and jump straight into the
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