Nick Taylor Snaps The Canadian Streak, Rory McIlroy Disappears On Sunday Again, PGA Tour-LIV Golf Merger Reflection, Expectations For The U.S. Open

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Nick Taylor draining a 70-foot eagle putt on the fourth playoff hole to win the RBC Canadian Open was maybe the 19th most-exciting thing to happen in professional golf this past week. We can of course thank the sport-shattering merger news between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf for that being the reality.

The PGA Tour agreeing to a merger with the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), and in turn, LIV Golf, is without question the most monumental thing to happen in professional golf in my 30 years, and likely the most shape-shifting moment in professional golf. The news is now a week old, and we’ve had time to reflect, although there are still plenty of questions to be answered.

The distraction of the merger may have finally caught up with Rory McIlroy on Sunday in Canada as he turned into a ghost yet again during a final round in a situation many tabbed him to pull through and win.

While the merger will continue to dominate the golf world for months to come, we get to juggle that with a U.S. Open being played at Los Angeles Country Club this week.

Nick Taylor Ends The 69-Year Curse For Canadians

The RBC Canadian Open is one of the oldest tournaments in professional golf having a history that dates back all the way to 1904, but held a Canadian curse that it seemed like nobody was going to ever break.

The last time a Canadian-born player won the country’s open came in 1954, and it looked like the drought was going to reach 70 years on multiple occasions, but Nick Taylor had other plans.

After matching Taylor at 17-under for the tournament, Tommy Fleetwood entered a playoff with Taylor and it seemed inevitable the Englishman was going to secure his first win on Tour and spoil the Canadian party.

Fleetwood was given not one, but two chances over the course of the four-hole playoff to shut the door, but wasn’t able to capitalize.

READ: ADAM HADWIN HAS VERY CANADIAN REACTION TO BEING TACKLED BY SECURITY AFTER THRILLING RBC CANADIAN OPEN

On the fourth playoff hole, the Par 5 18th, lightning struck in the form of Taylor’s putter. After skirting a shot onto the lengthy green, Taylor faced a 72-foot eagle putt with Fleetwood staring at a chance for birdie.

While Taylor was likely looking to lag his lengthy eagle chance close to the pin and put the pressure on Fleetwood to make his birdie, he hit the putt of his life and found the center of the cup.

Taylor began the day three shots back of leader C.T. Pan with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Fleetwood wedged between himself and the lead. All it took was four extra holes and Taylor to make the longest putt of his entire PGA Tour career to get the job done, not only for himself but for the entire country of Canada.

Rory McIlroy Didn’t Show Up On A Sunday, Which Is Becoming A Trend

Rory McIlroy may have begun Sunday’s final round two shots behind leader C.T. Pan but was still the odds-on favorite to win what would have been his third-straight Canadian Open.

Not many expected McIlroy to have a strong week in Canada with news of the merger breaking just a couple of days before Thursday’s opening round. He was able to cast the distraction aside, however, and firmly fire his way into contention with 18 holes to play.

But, as it is becoming somewhat of a tradition now, McIlroy didn’t have anything close to his A-game on Sunday and faded his way to a T-9 finish after shooting an even-par 72.

PGA Tour To Keep $3 Million Bonus From Rory McIlroy: Report
Rory McIlroy faded yet again on Sunday, this time at the RBC Canadian Open. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

McIlroy’s disappointing finish came just one week after he held the 54-hole co-lead at the Memorial before carding a final-round 75 to finish T-7. Back-to-back weeks of essentially doing the same exact thing and fading on Sunday quite literally makes McIlroy’s form a trend, and it’s not a good one.

One of these Sundays he finds himself on the first page of the leaderboard he will break through, he’s simply too good not to, but it’s hard to pinpoint when that moment may come, especially while he carries the burden of being a ‘sacrificial lamb’ for the Tour.

A General Overview Of The PGA Tour – LIV Golf Merger One Week On

Six days have now passed since the announcement that the PGA Tour is entering a merger with the PIF, and the answer to the dozens and dozens of questions surrounding the situation remains the same: nobody knows.

READ: MAKING SENSE OF THE MERGER: THE PGA TOUR-LIV WINNERS, HOW MEDIA WILL SPIN IT, WHY IT’S A WIN FOR GOLF, MORE

Nobody seems to really know anything at all about the deal other than the fact that the PGA Tour could not compete with the Saudi’s funding and the Saudis now have a seat at the table of professional golf.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan was very much a part of the PGA Tour – LIV Golf merger. (Photo by Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images)

The question that I continue to ask both myself and others is whether or not the merger is good for golf fans. Not ‘is this good for geopolitical reasons’ or ‘is this a win for sports washing’ or even ‘does this ruin professional golf.’

My answer was yes, this is good for golf the moment the announcement was made and it continues to be the same because, in the end, this is good for golf fans.

READ: PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER JAY MONAHAN ACCEPTING OF BEING CALLED A HYPOCRITE FOLLOWING MERGER WITH LIV GOLF

Golf fans who simply wanted to focus on the sport have not been able to for the better part of two years now. As much as you wanted to turn off the political talk surrounding the game and pettiness remarks being tossed from both camps, it was literally impossible to do so.

Those back-and-forth jabs will certainly continue for weeks, and probably months to come, but the person who wants to watch the best players in the world compete against one another more often than not, that wish (should) be granted in the near future.

After the initial shock of the merger announcement wore off, the overarching question turned to whether or not this merger may actually go through or not. Announcing the merger and having politicians in the United States on board are two different things.

While we’re still in the very early stages here, some in the Senate such as Democrat Richard Blumenthal want to do some digging.

The PGA Tour was already under DOJ investigation for potential antitrust practices with the word ‘monopoly’ being tossed around to describe the then non-profit organization. While all pending litigation is wiped away between LIV and the PGA Tour with the merger, that’s not to say the U.S. government is just going to turn its back.

One could argue that the PGA Tour went from being a hush-hush monopoly to one of the biggest monopolies in the world with its soon-to-come funding from the Saudis.

What To Expect At The U.S. Open At LACC

Other than every player in the field being asked to share their thoughts on the merger news, I think there are a few other expectations to keep in mind heading into the U.S. Open.

The consensus around Los Angels Country Club is that it is a bomber’s paradise. The long-ball hitters should have a field day at this golf course given a lack of wicked trouble off the tee. Bomb and gauge will be a term you hear all week long, and guys who don’t consistently hit it 300+ yards off the tee may not stand a chance this week.

There are a number of expectations for this week’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. (Imagn/USA TODAY)

Not overthinking things when making picks or predictions is easier said than done, but that’s the route to take this week given the last time a professional event was played on this golf course was in 1940.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the golf course as a whole, the overarching expectation is that LACC’s North Course is going to be one of the coolest, most intriguing tests we’ve seen in quite some time. We’ll see if it checks those boxes by the end of the week.

Speaking of keeping things simple, this is a week where the favorites could separate themselves before we even make it to the weekend. Scottie Scheffler is hitting the ball better than any other person walking the planet but is putting it about as well as a six-handicap at your local country club.

A hot putting week from Scheffler and we’ll be talking about a two-time major champion on Sunday evening.

A long, grueling week of difficult golf along with plenty to come out of the merger discussion awaits. If you thought last week was a marathon in the golf news world, this week may feel like back-to-back Iron Man competitions.

Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris

Written by Mark Harris

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