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Taylor Montgomery looks right at home on PGA TOUR

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Taylor Montgomery looks right at home on PGA TOUR

After two top-10s in first two starts, rookie looks for more of the same in native Las Vegas

    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    Las Vegas native Taylor Montgomery on why he is such a good putter

    A housing market surge has swept the United States, making it tricky for first-time homebuyers to make the jump, and Taylor Montgomery was not immune as he looked in his native Las Vegas. His two main criteria – ample garage and outdoor space – were at odds with his budget.

    That changed in his first week as a PGA TOUR member last month, when the highly touted rookie finished third at the season-opening Fortinet Championship at Silverado. Freed up financially, he made the most substantial purchase of his life in the subsequent off-week during the Presidents Cup, and since then it’s been about handling the logistics.

    “I’ve got to play good this week to pay for the electrical,” Montgomery said at last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship, where he did indeed play well, finishing T9. “The budget was smaller, then it got a little bigger, but you’ve got to put a limit on it.”

    With two top-10 finishes in his first two starts, Montgomery, 27, has put himself on the radar as a newcomer to watch. Still living with his parents while he irons out some of the details on his new house, he will hop on the freeway and make the 25-minute commute to TPC Summerlin and this week’s Shriners Children’s Open, his hometown TOUR event.

    In just his third PGA TOUR start as a member, Montgomery has announced himself as a contender; he’s among this week’s betting favorites. The numbers back up the book’s belief. With back-to-back top-10 finishes, he ranks fifth in the FedExCup. It’s a continuation from his last 10 weeks on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, when he finished outside the top-13 just once.

    Other than the U.S. Open at Brookline, Montgomery hasn’t recorded an over-par round in competition since the second round of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Club Car Championship on April 1.

    Countless Korn Ferry Tour grads have succumbed to the pitfalls of being a PGA TOUR rookie – a lack of self-belief, changing for the sake of change – but Montgomery, known for his creativity and instinctive short game, has stuck to his strengths on the bigger stage.

    “You got here for a reason,” said Montgomery, who stands No. 2 on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting. “Use that and try to get better. You’re always trying to get better, but sometimes you try to get better and it makes you worse. Some days golf is really hard, some days golf is easy; I just wake up, and you never know what’s going to happen.

    “My approach was to try and do the same thing (on TOUR), even if it wasn’t good enough,” he continued. “There’s not that big of a difference between the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA TOUR. If you’re playing good, you’re playing good golf; golf is hard, no matter what tour you’re on. Some guys are going to struggle … could be me in a month, you never know.”

    When it comes to struggles, Montgomery is not far removed from finishing 26th on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season and Finals points lists in 2021, one spot away from a TOUR card on both counts. Pundits expected him to deliver big things in 2022, and he delivered with 12 top-25s in 17 Korn Ferry Tour starts, including a pair of runner-up finishes. He left nothing to chance around the bubble, locking up his card well before the Regular Season finale.

    Montgomery hit the ground running at the season-opening Fortinet Championship, in which he sported a rain jacket from the Korn Ferry Tour’s event at TPC Colorado on a wet weekend in Napa, closing in 8-under 64 for a solo third. He closed with three sub-70 rounds for another top-10 finish at the Sanderson in Mississippi, and now brings momentum into the Shriners.

    TPC Summerlin has been closed for renovations, and Montgomery plays out of nearby Shadow Creek, where his dad Monte is the general manager. Being reasonably familiar with TPC Summerlin, though, in addition to sleeping in his own bed, should serve Montgomery nicely.

    He describes his time at the Country Club of Jackson last week as a steep learning curve.

    “I would have the easiest chip shot ever and be 20 feet, hitting a good shot,” he said. “The grain of the grass has been tough to read, putting and chipping; that’s been the biggest issue.”

    Montgomery has no learning curve when it comes to Las Vegas. He played golf for Foothill High School, and once, in a qualifier, he hit a tee shot out of bounds on a 330-yard par 4 before re-teeing and holing out for the unlikeliest of birdies. He played collegiately at UNLV, where he was a teammate of fellow 2022 Korn Ferry Tour grad Harry Hall.

    It’s hard to believe now, but Montgomery struggled off the tee in college and early in his pro career. At times, he would go an entire tournament without hitting more than a 2-iron off the tee, but he turned a corner under the tutelage of swing instructor Jon Sinclair.

    “The first two years (at UNLV), he was the best on the team and won a couple times,” said former teammate Hall. “The last couple years, he couldn’t make the team, couldn’t figure out his game. He’s always been a great chipper and putter, and he makes a lot of clutch putts … he’s worked really hard with Jon Sinclair, and together they’ve found a way to get it to the green, and from there he knows what he’s doing.”

    Should he keep piling up top-10s, it won’t be long before Montgomery invites comparisons to Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala, last season’s top rookies. There’s a long way to go, as is the case for his new house, which won’t be ready for move-in until next summer.

    “It’s on a half-acre, which is hard to find in Vegas, and it has a lot of garage space, which is nice,” Montgomery said. “Those were my two points on the house.”

    In contention twice in his first two starts on TOUR, he already looks right at home.

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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