North Vancouver’s Taylor Durham Plays His Way Into RBC Canadian Open

Two-Time Marine Drive Club Champion Taylor Durham Shot 5-under 65 To Win The Regional Qualifier at Ledgeview Golf Club - Image Credit Golf Canada/Twitter

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

ABBOTSFORD — When it comes to his golf, Taylor Durham has always been something of a late bloomer.

He wasn’t quite good enough in high school to get an opportunity to compete collegiately, but Durham’s passion for the game kept him playing and he got better. A lot better.

The now 29-year-old North Vancouver resident won the past two club championships at his home course, Marine Drive Golf Club, which has no shortage of excellent players. And last summer, Durham experienced what he called his career highlight, when he qualified to play in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

At least that was his career highlight. Durham, who sells commercial real estate for a living, now has a new one. Next month, he’ll tee it up in the RBC Canadian Open. Durham fired a five-under 65 Friday in a regional qualifier at Ledgeview Golf Club in Abbotsford to gain the coveted Canadian Open exemption that was up for grabs.

“I’m still feeling like I am in shock,” Durham said. “It doesn’t feel real. This has been a life-long dream, but you don’t really imagine it actually happening. I don’t know what to think right now. I am kind of speechless.”

A field of 124 players teed it up at Ledgeview, surpassing the 120 needed for that exemption into the Open to be offered. Durham shot his 65 in the morning wave. He birdied five straight holes — 9 through 13 — after an indifferent start to his round. “To be honest, I have never really had a stretch like that, especially in a tournament,” Durham said of that mid-round birdie binge.

“Maybe in a fun round you occasionally might make three or four in a row, but I have to give credit to my caddie today.” That caddie was close friend Dionne Delesalle. “He was a last-minute addition and he was very good at just keeping me motivated. He was saying the right things, keeping me calm and patient. He knew I was frustrated on the front nine when the putts weren’t going in. He kept me focused.”

Durham had to endure a long wait after his round to see if his 65 would stand up and he experienced a range of emotions. He went from thinking, ‘yeah, it was a nice round, but it likely won’t be good enough,’ to ‘well, maybe I’ll get into a playoff,’ to ‘oh, my God, this is actually going to happen. I’m going to play in the Canadian Open!’

Durham came to Ledgeview feeling like he was playing okay, but his expectations were not through the roof. “I was hitting the ball well going into today, but my putting was a bit of a problem the last few months. I haven’t had the confidence on the greens.”

The majority of Durham’s birdie putts at Ledgeview came from inside five feet after terrific iron approach shots, but he did make a 30-footer on No. 13 for his fifth straight birdie. “I was happy to see that one hit the hole because it had some speed,” he said.

Durham beat the field by two shots. Richmond’s Ziggy Nathu was second with a three-under 67. Durham now has four weeks to prepare for the Canadian Open, which goes June 8-11 at Oakdale Golf Club & Country Club in suburban Toronto.

He’ll play in next week’s B.C. Mid-Amateur Championship at Sandpiper Golf Club in Harrison Mills. After that, he’ll just work on his game and try to get comfortable with the idea of teeing up on the PGA TOUR. He hopes playing in last year’s U.S. Mid-Am will help him at the Canadian Open. “That was definitely the biggest tournament that I had played in my career,” he said.

“And I felt like I handled it pretty well. I didn’t play as well as I had hoped, but the experience was awesome, and the way the tournament is run and everything, it definitely builds your confidence as well.”

Durham will head to the Canadian Open determined to enjoy the experience. “Going there with the expectation to play well is obviously important,” he said. “I just want to keep the eyes open and take in the memory. At the end of the day, I have no plans for professional golf. So really, just to take it all in is the game plan.”

Durham joked that his toughest decision might be who to use as his caddie. “I’ve already had a few people text me trying to reserve the spot. I might have to flip a coin or roll the dice. We’ll see.”

While Durham earned the exemption into the Canadian Open, the rest of the field had something to play for. The top 15 per cent of the field — 19 players — earned spots into the tournament’s Monday qualifier. It took a score of one-over or better to earn a spot in the Monday qualifier.

Click HERE to see final qualifying scores.