Damian Warner’s hometown fans were anticipating a record-breaking performance at the PGA Championship Sunday, but in the end, they just wanted the sense that their homegrown star had done his job well.
Warner captured a single-round record 12 birdies in the second round of the PGA Championship on Saturday, then completed the feat in style Sunday to become the first Canadian ever to win the Lou Marsh Trophy.
It also continued a remarkable run of heights for Warner, a 23-year-old golfer from Summerside, P.E.I., who was only ranked 639th in the world after losing in the second round of the U.S. Open last month, but took his lead in the Canadian rankings and is now tied for sixth overall.
He said he was trying to “put the pressure on the entire field” to ensure the victory.
“I just think I played really well the entire day,” he said. “I’m very happy with my play, I’m very happy with my performance. And I’m very happy to have it at home.”
Warner’s victory was the 67th in the 65-year history of the Lou Marsh Trophy, which honors Canada’s athletes of the year for their performances on and off the playing field.
It was also a smashing finish to a year to remember for Warner, who held an eight-shot lead with five holes to play in the Porter Cup before falling just shy of his goal and finishing second.
After finishing with a 6-under par 66 at Royal Montreal on Sunday, Warner was one shot clear of David Hearn and Jhonattan Vegas.
Hearn was trying to win his second straight Canadian Open after he claimed the national championship in Edmonton in August, making a last-ditch putt on the 18th hole to win by one stroke over Scott Stallings.
Stallings finished fifth in Montreal in early June.
“It was a week that was frustrating, but I stayed positive and kept working hard and I finished the way I wanted to finish,” Hearn said. “It’s a good feeling. Hopefully I can build on this.”
That might mean winning the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in August, though Hearn didn’t sound so sure.
“I’m still thinking about that victory from back in August,” he said. “I don’t know what the dynamics of my game are going to be this season yet.”
Warner joins two other Canadians to win the Lou Marsh Trophy: boxer Wladimir Klitschko in 2003 and javelin thrower Alexandre Despatie in 2016.
Sunday’s win in Montreal was the sixth PGA Tour victory for Warner, whose career has moved steadily forward, even after a brief mid-career break.
Warner missed the cut in the U.S. Open in June at Shinnecock Hills in New York, but made it to the weekend at Augusta National, where he missed the cut for the first time in five years, but he did play in five World Golf Championships tournaments, including the WGC-HSBC Champions, which he won in November for his fourth career victory.
“I’m learning from my mistakes and I’m going to keep growing and making improvements,” Warner said. “I’m not going to stop.”