As Taylor Pendrith struggled to recover from a fractured rib for four months, he had simple goals: get back to playing golf, keep his PGA Tour card to play again next season.
Pendrith has far exceeded those modest targets, rocketing up the FedEx Cup standings in the final six tournaments of the season. That impressive stretch also led to him being named to the international team at the upcoming Presidents Cup on Tuesday.
“Honestly, I feel like the last couple of months have gone very quickly and things have changed a lot,” said Pendrith hours after captain Trevor Immelman made his selection official. “Looking back, it’s been a great season all things considered and to get (Immelman’s) phone call is amazing.
“It’s going to be a really, really cool experience and honour to to play for the international team.”
Pendrith tied for 13th at the Players Championship on March 13, the best finish of his career to that point, but fractured his rib in the process. What the 31-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., hoped would only be a few weeks off stretched into months.
He finally returned to play at the Barbasol Championship on July 10 and he’s been in the top 13 at five of six events since then, including tying for second at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 31. Most recently, he tied for eighth at the BMW Championship, finishing the PGA Tour season 44th in the FedEx Cup standings.
“Taylor really, in the last couple months, burst on to the scene, quite honestly,” said Immelman. “He sort of disappeared off of our radar a little bit because we weren’t quite sure how he was going to come back.
“But turns out, when he came back, he played some unbelievable golf.”
Pendrith’s appointment represents a new high watermark for Canadian golf as he’ll join Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., on the team. It’s the first time more than one Canadian will compete in the best-on-best tournament that sees a team from the United States play an international squad.
Conners was an automatic selection after finishing the PGA Tour season fourth on the international team standings. He rose up from sixth after Australia’s Cam Smith and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann jumped to the Saudi-backed LIV Tour on Aug. 30, disqualifying themselves from the PGA Tour-backed Presidents Cup.
“I think golf in Canada’s in a great spot,” said Pendrith, who noted that Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., and Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., were also on Immelman’s short list.
“Over the last couple of years, I think there’s been a record number of Canadians on the PGA Tour, lots of really solid players coming up who will be on the PGA Tour for years to come.”
Immelman said he has a great deal of respect for Hadwin and Hughes but that Pendrith’s impressive distance off the tee — his average of 316.1 yards per drive is 10th best on the PGA Tour — was an undeniable asset.
“At the end of the day, we had to try and find a way to blend different things together,” said Immelman, who will have Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., as an assistant captain at Quail Hollow Club outside of Charlotte, N.C., when the event starts Sept. 20.
“Whether it be through team chemistry, whether it be through matchups with the golf course and how we believe the golf course is going to be set up.”
Pendrith and Conners have chemistry baked into their potential pairing. They were teammates and roommates at Kent State University, they lived together after school, and were the best man at each other’s weddings.
“To do it with Corey, it’s also his first year, is going to be a really fun memory for us,” said Pendrith. “Hopefully we get paired together and play some good golf.”
South Korea’s Si Woo Kim was the only Presidents Cup veteran Immelman selected to his team on Tuesday. The South African captain also took K.H. Lee of South Korea, Cameron Davis of Australia, Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa, and Sebastian Munoz of Colombia.
The other automatic qualifiers were Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Australia’s Adam Scott, Tom Kim and Sungjae Im of South Korea, and Chile’s Mito Pereira.
Davis Love III makes his six captain’s picks for the American team on Wednesday.
The six U.S. qualifiers are world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau.