Taylor Pendrith is ready to showcase his game on the biggest stage in golf.
The product of Richmond Hill, Ont., earned his way into his first career major on Sunday when he qualified for the U.S. Open as one of the top five players in the Korn Ferry Tour rankings. It's been a long road for the 29-year-old Pendrith, who's battled back from injuries and other setbacks to become one of the hottest players not yet on the PGA Tour.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, I guess, a whole lot," said Pendrith shortly after his entry into the U.S. Open became official as the No. 4 player on the Korn Ferry Tour. "Obviously I'm super excited to play. It'll be my first major and I get to play against the best players in the world and it will be super fun."
Pendrith's first appearance on the PGA Tour was at the 2014 RBC Canadian Open when he was still an amateur playing at Kent State University in Ohio. He tied for 43rd at Royal Montreal Golf Club that year and was the tournament's low amateur. He played his first and only PGA event as a pro at last year's Puerto Rico Open as a Monday qualifier, but failed to make the weekend cut.
He turned pro in 2015 and earned his way up to what was then called the Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour). However, after two injury-plagued seasons Pendrith just missed out on earning a card for the second-tier circuit for the 2019 season.
Pendrith didn't lose heart, instead focusing on getting himself healthy and then tearing it up on Canada's Mackenzie Tour, finishing in the top 10 nine times to finish second overall, just behind France's Paul Barjon for first in the rankings. That earned him a promotion to the Korn Ferry Tour this year.
He's stayed hot this season, with four consecutive top-three results through the month of July to rocket up the Korn Ferry Tour's rankings. A tie for 22nd in the Portland Open on Sunday kept him in the tour's top five and qualified him for the U.S. Open.
The top 25 in the rankings next fall earn PGA Tour cards for 2021-22.
"I've always been kind of a late bloomer, I'd say," said Pendrith, noting he picked up golf later than most pros. "Didn't really have any college offers, didn't win my first college event until my third year.
"Each person has their different path and mine's taken a little longer but it would be awesome to get out (to the PGA Tour) full time."
He'll fit right in when the U.S. Open tees off on Sept. 17 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Not just because fellow Canadians Adam Hadwin, Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes have already qualified for the event, but because Pendrith's massive drives are PGA calibre.
So far this season he's averaging 323.8 yards per drive, good for eighth on the Korn Ferry Tour. If he were on the PGA Tour, he would be second for longest average drive behind Bryson DeChambeau by just 0.1 yards.
Pendrith — who played for Kent State with Conners and Hughes — has already earned a reputation as an exciting, dynamic player.
When Royal Montreal was named the host of the 2024 Presidents Cup on Monday, Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., was asked about the possibility of several Canadians making the International team. Pendrith was among the names the 2013 International team member mentioned as someone who could make the squad in four years' time.
"I look at the potential for Canadians to be on that roster, and obviously (Adam Hadwin) has been playing some great golf, (Nick Taylor) and (Mackenzie Hughes), Taylor Pendrith is coming off the Korn Ferry Tour next year, I think you've got to watch out for him," said DeLaet. "Obviously Corey Conners is everything, as well."
Hours later, Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum mentioned that Pendrith is likely your favourite golfer's favourite golfer.
"He's the guy that all of our current PGA Tour pros like Mac and Corey and Nick they all say 'this guy is going to be with us sooner than you know,'" said Applebaum. "I just think he's such a great kid, such a good attitude, he's a lot of fun."
Until the U.S. Open, Pendrith will continue to play on the Korn Ferry Tour, including this week's Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club in Idaho. He'll be joined by fellow Canadians Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., and Vancouver's Stuart Macdonald.
PGA TOUR — Conners, from Listowel, Ont., is the top-ranked Canadian playing in this week's Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., are also in the field.
EUROPEAN TOUR — Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., is in the field at this week's Celtic Classic at The Celtic Manor Resort, City of Newport, Wales.
MACKENZIE TOUR — Calgary's Evan Holmes was the leader heading into Wednesday's final round of the Canada Life Series on Bear Mountain's Mountain Course. The three-round tournament was the first event in the four-stop mini-tour.
LPGA TOUR — Hamilton's Alena Sharp is the only Canadian in the field at this week's Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland. Sharp is ranked 31st on the LPGA Tour after tying for 25th at last week's Marathon LPGA Classic.
SYMETRA TOUR — Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., is the highest ranked Canadian heading into the Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday. Szeryk is 18th in the standings. Josee Doyon of St-Georges, Que., Calgary's Jaclyn Lee and Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., are also in the field. Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., had to withdraw from the event after cutting her hand.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.
John Chidley Hill's weekly golf notebook is published on Wednesdays.
Follow @jchidleyhill on Twitter
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected version of an earlier story. Taylor Pendrith has played in one PGA event as a professional