Putting propels Taylor to victory at Pebble
The Augusta native wins for the first time in over a decade
February 14, 2016
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Vaughn Taylor closed with a 7-under 65 in the final round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Warshaw/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Here are a few observations from Sunday's final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Click here to read more in the Daily Wrap.
1. 'BIRDIE MACHINE': The putter didn’t work so well the first time Vaughn Taylor played Pebble Beach this week. His 2-under 70 in Thursday’s first round was built more on his ball-striking than his work on the greens.
But upon returning to this week’s host course of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for Sunday’s final round, Taylor was a different player. His putter had heated up on the other two courses in the tournament rotation, and on the back nine at Pebble, it carried him to the biggest victory of his career.
Taylor rolled in a birdie putt from 9 feet, 1 inch to start the back nine. He then sandwiched two short birdie putts at the 13th and 15th holes with an 11-footer for birdie at 14. He glanced quickly at the leaderboard, but he didn’t want to concentrate on his position at that point.
But as Taylor walked to the 16th tee box, he could no longer tune out the discussion. He was tied for the lead.
A few minutes later, he held the lead outright, rolling in a birdie from just inside 29 feet. It was his fourth consecutive birdie – and most important four-hole stretch of his life.
“I’ve had that putt before,” Taylor said. “I probably three-putted a couple of times. It was a tough putt … A gust of wind came up and it just kind of told me, just give it a good firm roll. And as soon as I hit it, it was like, ‘Man, that’s so good.’
“And then when it went in, I really felt like something was going on.”
Taylor walked onto the 18th green with a two-shot advantage, but he feared that a missed birdie putt on the closing hole might prove costly. He had to sweat out the late charge from Phil Mickelson, who missed a 6-footer on the last that would’ve forced a playoff.
Taylor, having signed for his 7-under 65 a half-hour earlier, was standing by the scorer’s tent when Mickelson putted. When he heard groans instead of roars, he knew he had won.
“Everybody looked at me, and I was just like, ‘There’s no way he just missed that putt,’" Taylor said. “His short game is ridiculous, so just very fortunate for him to not make that putt or make birdie there.”
In the end, it came down to one putt – and it was Taylor, making 108 feet of putts on Sunday, who delivered.
“He was hitting the ball great all week,” said Taylor’s amateur partner, Gregg Ontiveros. “He got his putter going the last three days. It was fun to watch the birdie machine go.”
Vaughn Taylor's Cinderella win at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
2. BACK TO AUGUSTA. Taylor wasn’t born in Augusta, Ga., but he was raised there. Obviously the Masters has a special place in his heart.
Taylor has played the tournament three times, the last in 2008 when he missed the cut. He feared he may not again get to play it, but now he’ll get an invite thanks to Sunday’s win.
“Playing in the Masters is obviously my Super Bowl,” Taylor said. “I didn’t know if I would ever get back, and I can’t believe I’m going to be there in a couple of months. It’s surreal. It hasn’t hit me yet. It’s just unbelievable.”
In his three appearances, Taylor has missed the cut twice, but he did finish T10 in 2007.
3. COSTLY BOGEY. Jonas Blixt had a share of the lead as he headed to the par-5 14th. But instead of strengthening his position, he suffered a bogey and eventually settled for a tie for third.
It was the second shot at 14 that proved costly. Standing 293 yards from the pin, Blixt had to lay up, but his shot ended up in the primary rough. He then found a greenside bunker with his third, and couldn’t get up-and-down to save par.
“I was trying to hit a little stinger and it just kept straight,” Blixt said. “Two more feet and I would’ve been fine.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Vaughn Taylor entered this week at No. 447 in the Official World Golf Ranking. That’s the lowest ranking for a PGA TOUR winner since last August when Davis Love III won the Wyndham Championship ranked 613th … Taylor, now a three-time TOUR winner, was making his 288th start on TOUR this week. But it had been 235 starts in between wins for Taylor, who last won the 2005 Barracuda Championship. … Taylor and Ontiveros also won the pro-am portion of the event. It’s the second pro-am win for Ontiveros, who won in 2012 with Brian Harman. It’s the 10th time that the tournament winner also won the pro-am portion; the last time came in 2013 with Brandt Snedeker and Toby S. Wilt. … Brandt Snedeker finished T35 but overtook the top spot in the FedExCup rankings … World No. 1 Jordan Spieth shot a 66 and had the only bogey-free round on Sunday. He entered the day T54 and finished T21.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Didn't know if it would ever happen again, to be honest. Just lost a lot of confidence, lost a good bit of my game. I just kept working, kept grinding, and kept at it. And I can't believe it actually happened today.
CALL OF THE DAY
Vaughn Taylor holes fourth birdie in a row at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Vaughn Taylor's lucky approach is the Shot of the Day
So happy for @VaughnTaylorPGA on the big win today.. Couldn't have written a story like his if you tried.. Well done— Brandt Snedeker (@BrandtSnedeker) February 14, 2016