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Canada's Pendrith returns to PGA Championship in stronger position than last year

Taylor Pendrith, of Canada, chips to the green on the third hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Matt York

Everything has changed for Taylor Pendrith over the past two weeks.

Pendrith won The CJ Cup Byron Nelson on May 5 for his first-ever PGA Tour victory, then tied for 10th at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday. Those performances lifted him from 91st on the FedEx Cup standings up to No. 30 and qualified him for this week's PGA Championship, the second major of the men's golf season.

"I started the year not knowing if I was going to get in the majors," Pendrith said. "I could qualify for the U.S. Open and play my way into the other majors. I also wasn't in the signature events at the beginning of the year. 

"To play great and get a win and get in the PGA Championship and Wells Fargo last week, and I've got some other big events coming up in the next few months, is awesome."

Moving up to the top 30 in the FedEx Cup and 54th on the official world golf rankings has opened up a lot more for the 32-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont. 

As long as Pendrith can stay within the top 60 on the official ranking by May 30 — coincidentally, the first round of the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club — he'll have a spot in the U.S. Open. If he can climb just four spots by May 20, he will qualify for the British Open.

Pendrith's win at The CJ Cup has already qualified him for the 2025 Masters.

These are all huge opportunities for a player who has never qualified for the Masters or the British Open before. He's played at the U.S. Open three times and made his PGA Championship debut last year.

"I didn't know if I was going to play one of them this year, I was hoping to, but never really knew," said Pendrith. "It's the world's best golfers playing together so it's always an exciting week. 

"You get to test your game against the best in the world and on championship golf courses that are made to hold these events and have a lot of history."

Pendrith is one of six Canadians playing at Valhalla Golf Club in Lousville, Ky., this week. 

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., who played with Pendrith at Kent State University, are also in the PGA Championship field, as are Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., and Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor, both from Abbotsford, B.C.

Pendrith tied for 29th at last year's PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., and he said that Valhalla has a similar feel.

"This is my fifth week in a row, so I'm just trying to conserve some energy leading into the week," said Pendrith. "Getting all my prep work done but not wearing myself out, because I have played a lot of golf lately."

There are two other elite tournaments Pendrith has potentially played his way into over the past two weeks. 

He's the fourth highest ranked Canadian in the men's world golf rankings behind Taylor (28th), Conners (49th), and Hadwin (51st). The top two Canadians in both men's and women's golf will get to play at this summer's Paris Olympics.

Pendrith is also 13th on the International Team standings for the upcoming Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal Golf Club starting Sept. 24. The top six players in those standings are automatically put on the team, and then captain Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., will choose six more. 

Taylor is fifth on the International Team standings, making him a compulsory pick, while Conners and Hadwin are 10th and 11th respectively to bring them within a reasonable range of being selected by Weir. Pendrith and Conners were the first two Canadians to play at the same Presidents Cup in 2022 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.

"With a couple more solid finishes, you never know what's going to happen," said Pendrith. "So both of those are on my radar. It'd be an honour to represent Canada for both of those. 

"It's a huge bonus to make those teams and good golf takes care of all that."

KORN FERRY TOUR — Myles Creighton of Digby, N.S., leads the Canadian contingent into the AdventHealth Championship. Creighton is ranked 12th on the second-tier tour's points list. He'll be joined at Blue Hills Country Club in Kansas City, Mo., by Edmonton's Wil Bateman (19th), Etienne Papineau (36th) of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., Jared du Toit (85th) of Kimberley, B.C., and Sudarshan Yellamaraju (132nd) of Mississauga, Ont.

PGA TOUR AMERICAS — Matt Anderson of Mississauga, Ont., is the top golfer on the Fortinet Cup standings heading into this week's Inter Rapidisimo Golf Championship. The finale of the Latin American swing of the third-tier men's circuit is at Club el Rincon de Cajica in Bogota, Colombia. Vancouver's Stuary Macdonald is third on the points list. The top two players from the Latin America swing will earn exemptions on next year's second-tier Korn Ferry Tour.

LPGA TOUR — Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., is fifth on the Race to CME Globe standings heading into this week's Mizuho Americas Open. She'll be joined by Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J. Leblanc is No. 146 in the rankings.

U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN — Leblanc qualified on Monday for the U.S. Women's Open, the second major of the women's golf season. She shot a 12-under 67-65 — 132 at Haworth Country Club in Haworth, N.J., to tie for second in the 36-hole qualifier and earn one of four spots that advanced to the championship. The U.S. Women's Open will be at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa., starting May 30. Henderson had already qualified for the major as a recent winner of the Evian Championship.

EPSON TOUR — Hamilton's Alena Sharp sits at No. 33 on the Race for the Card points list ahead of the Copper Rock Championship. She's the highest ranked of five Canadians at Copper Rock Golf Course in Hurricane, Utah. She'll be joined by Brigitte Thibault (91st) of Rosemere, Que., and Maddie Szeryk (119th) of London, Ont., as well as unranked players Selena Costabile of Thornhill, Ont., and Kate Johnston of Ayr, Ont.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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