Taylor Pendrith may be new to major championships, but the Canadian is fearless.
He understands that Winged Foot, known as the quintessential U.S. Open test, tests every aspect of a golfer’s game.
From Thursday to Friday, the course went from getable to requiring survival.
Taylor Pendrith's second round at the U.S. Open just underway now (Conners, Hughes, and Hadwin off at 1:49 pm ET).
Pendrith was first in driving distance on Thursday (avg. 349.90(!) yards) and 2nd in SG: Off-the-Tee. Key to a bit better Friday? He was 121st in SG: Approach.
— Adam Stanley (@adam_stanley) September 18, 2020
After shooting a one-over 71 in the opening round, Pendrith scrambled to shoot a four-over 74 on Friday. Depending on how the golfers perform in the afternoon wave, Pendrith will likely make the cut at his debut major championship.
“Overall I’m pretty pleased,” Pendrith said after his second round. “Disappointed to have bogeyed the last, but I played really well.”
The last 18 months tested Pendrith. Since winning in Montreal at the Mackenzie Tour Investment Open, Pendrith suffered a shoulder injury at the end of last year. The Canadian said he didn’t pick up a club for nine weeks and that the pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic helped him recover.
Since coming back, Pendrith has five top-10 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour, including three runner-up finishes. His successful season earned him a spot at the 2020 U.S. Open.
While Pendrith continues to play golf, he’s done so without the presence of his girlfriend, Meg Beirnes. Beirnes, a registered nurse, is currently working on the frontlines at a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, helping lung patients. Pendrith hasn’t seen Beirnes since May, due to travel restrictions between the United States and Canada.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder. ❤️
— Korn Ferry Tour (@KornFerryTour) September 17, 2020
“She feels very safe working there. Right in the midst of it, I think they had a handful, a couple of handfuls of cases. She works with blood cancer patients, so if she gets sick and passes it to them, they have no immune system, so it could be horrible. But I think they’ve managed it really well in their hospital, and she’s doing good,” Pendrith said.
Pendrith isn’t alone this week at the U.S. Open. Despite the absence of fans, the Richmond Hill, Ont. native is playing alongside fellow Canadians Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, and Mackenzie Hughes. Golf Canada head coach Derek Ingram is also in attendance at this week’s major, who worked with all four golfers at different points in their careers.
“It’s great to have those guys here,” Pendrith said. “They’ve all played in majors and they’re PGA TOUR winners, all three of them, and we played Tuesday and Wednesday together, so it was a lot of fun.”
Pendrith’s strength is his driving, leading all golfers in the field in driving distance after the first round (349.9). On his first hole on Thursday, the tricky par-3 10th, Pendrith admitted his nervousness. But he battled through it, managing the jitters to navigate his way throughout the golf course.
“I was thinking about that tee shot basically all night, which is probably not something you want to do,” Pendrith said. “It would have been a lot different with 20,000 people standing around. I was excited. They were good nerves. I probably haven’t been that nervous in a long time.”
Despite only converting 29 percent of greens and 50 percent greens in regulation, Pendrith responded after a disappointing stretch of holes. Starting his second-round two over par, Pendrith recorded two birdies to shoot even par on his front-9. While four straight bogeys to start the back 9 isn’t ideal, Pendrith bounced back with a birdie on the par-4 15th.
After the round, Pendrith said that he would take a nap. When he awakes, Pendrith will find out he will play the weekend.
Pendrith knows that regardless of how he finishes, he will take a lot of knowledge and experience that will transfer to future events.
“It’s a big confidence boost,” Pendrith said. “I played really well yesterday and grinded hard today. But just competing with these guys out here, the best players in the world, it’s just awesome to be here, and I’m happy that I played fairly decent so far.”