PGA TOUR – The CUT
January 23, 2023
By Taylor Montgomery, with Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
PGA TOUR – The CUT
Taylor’s tales: get to know Taylor Montgomery
A bonfire with Taylor Montgomery could last until sunrise.
The PGA TOUR rookie has endless fodder for stories, first cultivated in a childhood spent around the high-rolling clientele at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, where his dad Monte is longtime general manager.
Whether he’s talking with Michael Jordan or a fan, it’s all the same. Montgomery is equal parts self-deprecating, funny and humble. He doesn’t hesitate to laugh at himself or celebrate the lighter side of life. Nine starts into his TOUR career, he has established himself as one of the circuit’s premier conversationalists as well as one of its top newcomers.
The Las Vegas native, 27, has already notched eight top-15 finishes this season as he heads to Torrey Pines for this week’s Farmers Insurance Open. Oh, and he has plenty of stories at Torrey, as well; the family heritage dates to 1994, when his dad Monday qualified into the Farmers and finished T24 in his only TOUR start.
What’s more, Taylor Montgomery played the Junior World Championship at Torrey four times, finished T11 at last year’s Farmers as a sponsor exemption, and even made the cut in the 2021 U.S. Open at the scenic course on the cliffs of La Jolla. He even has an anecdote around title sponsor, Farmers Insurance (more on that later).
Here are 10 stories to get to know Montgomery, as told by Taylor himself.
-- Kevin Prise
1. I’ve met Michael Jordan a few times now, but the first time I met him as a kid, I was really young, and my dad’s like, ‘Hey, you’re going to meet Michael Jordan.’ This was the time that I was playing basketball, and I was all-in on basketball, and obviously it’s Michael Jordan, it’s the coolest thing ever, so I go in there and I don’t know what I was expecting. I wasn’t expecting much. I just knew I was super excited.
So I go up to meet him, and I used to wear these AND1 basketball shoes, they were cheaper, they weren’t $200 like his shoes were, and I’ll never forget it. He looks right at me, and it’s the same way he looks at everybody; he talks to everybody kind of the same, and he looks right at me, and he says, ‘Kid, what the F are those?’ And I didn’t know what to say. And I’ll never forget it. It’s something that has always stuck with me, and my dad just started laughing, and it was really cool.
2. Phil Ivey, those poker guys, are some of the craziest guys you’ll ever see. Gambling stuff that you would never think possible. There’s nobody crazier in the world than a poker player. They’re rich one day and they’re broke the next. And that’s how they live life, they’re adrenaline junkies.
Phil Ivey was making a lot of money, obviously one of the greatest poker players of all time, and he plays this guy on the ninth hole for a million dollars, and he won the hole, and the very next day, he shows up in a Mercedes McLaren, and my dad and I were walking in and we’re like, ‘Wow? What is that car?’ It must have been … my dad’s like, ‘What is that thing? That thing sounds hot!’ Like, it’s super-fast, you know a fast car when you hear one.
And sure enough, Phil Ivey gets out of it. It’s a car I had never seen that young, fancy paint job and everything, and how he got it that day is beyond me, because normally you order a car now, you don’t get it for like six months. But he got it, brought it out, and he’s like, ‘Oh, this is just a little car, that I wanted to show him what his money bought me.’ And that’s what they did. It was amazing.
3. I had one of the greatest high school coaches, in my opinion (Paul DeSantis, Foothill HS in Henderson, Nevada). He was a football coach, and didn’t know too much about golf, but he was very intense, and I loved that, because I grew up playing basketball and football and those sports, and it was really cool to see that aggression from a coach on a golf course.
And I believe Ryan Moore gave me an Adams driver when I was young, and I was debating whether to play that one or the Rocketballz, which was a TaylorMade driver. And we were on the 16th hole of Tuscany, now it’s called Chimera, and it’s this uphill, probably 310, 315-yard par 4, and I hit the first one so far out of bounds with the Adams driver, and I just remember my high school coach just ripping into me. ‘Lay up, blah blah blah. Don’t be a dummy, just hit an iron up there, wedge it on and make the putt. You’re the best putter I’ve ever seen.’ He’s like, ‘Stick to your strengths.’ And I didn’t listen, I pulled out the Rocketballz driver, the opposite one, and I knocked it in the hole.
So it was something I’ll never forget, it’s the best birdie you could ever make. There’s no better birdie in the world than that one.
4. I loved high school basketball. It was one of the best moments of my life, all my teammates and stuff, and we had a really good team, we traveled a lot, we played in Palm Springs, Hawaii, we went to Utah, all over the place.
We played against this team in Utah called Lone Peak, and our team thought we were going to beat them. They were one of the best teams in the country, Lone Peak was, it was a 5A high school. We went out there and were like, ‘We can beat them,’ and we had no chance. They were throwing alley-oops from half-court and all this stuff. I was like, ‘This is not possible. There’s no way,’ and I think four of them went to BYU and played in college. That was probably the best team that I saw in high school.
5. So the Major Series of Putting, it was right after my senior year of college, don’t really have any money, trying to go play mini-tours and stuff like that. And there was this putting tour, basically, coming to Las Vegas, and I knew nothing about it. My dad called me the night before and he’s like, ‘Hey, I hear some putting tour, I don’t know what it is, but looks like they’re putting in a lot of money. It’s backed by the guy that runs Caesar’s, I believe is what he said, and he’s like, ‘You should go down and try to qualify.’
So I go down, I try to qualify, I think the qualifier was like $200, and I end up missing that by one. So then, the main guy comes up to me, he’s like, ‘Hey, I’ll sponsor you in the event and give you 20% of whatever you win,’ and sure enough, after a few practice rounds, you kind of get to know the breaks of the greens, but they change because you’re putting on AstroTurf, and by nighttime, when a thousand people are stepping on them, they turn into like 14, 15 on the Stimpmeter, they are still the fastest greens you could ever putt.
And I ended up winning that big event. There were probably six different events, and the first one was the biggest one, it was $75,000, so I ended up winning $15,000 from that one. After that, I sponsored myself into all the other ones, and Kurt Kitayama and I won the team match that year, the team event. So it was just an unreal experience. They had this stadium behind Planet Hollywood and TopGolf, and it was awesome. They had a leaderboard like you see out here on TOUR, and guys playing music and stuff like that, so it was a really cool experience.
6. I drove Reggie Bush and Natalie Gulbis around.
I wanted to go out there (to The Match, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson, in fall 2018), but I couldn’t get a ticket, so that was the only way I could go out there, is if I kind of worked. They just said, ‘Hey, you know the golf course, do you mind driving Reggie and Natalie around?’ And I said, ‘No problem.’
It was really cool, because you’re talking about two people that are really good at what they do, just like all the other athletes that I saw; they’re just normal people at the end of the day. I haven’t really met anybody that was super weird, and they were great.
7. I wasn’t watching TV when the final tournament was going on. I knew it was close. It’s funny, you always get these texts like, ‘No chance you finish 26 twice, you’re gonna get your TOUR card, this and that.’ I’m one of those guys that, you don’t have it until you have it.
(Note: Montgomery had finished No. 26 on the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, and this was during the subsequent Korn Ferry Tour Finals.)
I played decently well at Ohio and Boise, the first two Finals events, and I was 14th (in Finals points) going into the final event down in Indiana. And I do not like that golf course. It showed. I don’t think I’ve made the cut there, ever, and I missed the cut there again.
And I kind of knew it was going to be close, but I flew back home, and I didn’t want to watch it. I just kind of practiced, did my own thing, worked out, and then I went to the golf store and it was coming down to the end, and I looked at my phone and it said, final, 26th.
Life on the bubble.— Korn Ferry Tour (@KornFerryTour) August 15, 2021
Taylor Montgomery, currently projected No. 26 on Points List, awaits a final verdict around The 25.
Watching the action with mom, dad and dog Marley.
If winner is not Skinns or Dou, Montgomery could finish inside The 25 and earn a @PGATOUR card. pic.twitter.com/4V72VtWc7I
So I barely threw my phone, it was not like a hard throw or anything, to the dash of my car, and it hit the windshield, and all of a sudden it just goes crack, like all over the place, and I called, we have Farmers Insurance, so we called them, and they covered it. So their commercials are pretty good. They’re legit. And then I got the sponsor exemption into the Farmers, so I wanted to share that story during that time.
8. I used to have a problem with the driver, and I fixed the driver and I was driving it pretty well down in the Bahamas (at the first Korn Ferry Tour event of 2022), but the Saturday (tournament starts on Sunday that week), I was on the range with Scott, the TaylorMade guy, and I was hitting some irons, and he’s like, ‘We’ve gotta get you fitted.’ Like, those are some weird numbers, all this stuff. Because the ball spins differently, in my opinion, compared to sea level than in Vegas. Vegas is very dry, and I’ve noticed it a few times, but me, I don’t pay too much attention, even though I probably should, and he’s like, ‘We need to get you fitted as soon as possible, because you’re spinning your irons too much.’
Well, I noticed it that first round. I would hit an iron shot, and the wind would take it off the map, and I ended up shooting 84, and then I got fitted the very next week before Torrey Pines. I got an exemption into that tournament, and so I changed all the shafts. Everything was spinning the same way it did down in Bahamas when I first got there. I probably tried seven different golf shafts and came out with the one that spun it the lowest, and I stuck with it, and it's been really good since.
I’ve had tournaments; I still don’t hit them as good as I’d like to, but it’s more because of me. But it improved them so much, when I first switched them. The other ones were just pretty brutal, and everyone calls me an idiot for not being fitted. My dad was the first one. He’s like, ‘You’ve been with TaylorMade how long? You might be the dumbest kid that I’ve ever seen.’ Those were exactly his words. I kind of agreed with him, which I typically don’t. Even if he’s right, I usually give him a jab or something.
9. So last year, my caddie Larry was an older guy, super nice guy. I still talk to him today, and he got sick and he was helping his dad, so he couldn’t show up to (The Ascendant) at TPC Colorado, and I know a bunch of people down there, because my parents are from Colorado and it’s just a really great spot. I end up meeting Anthony Knight from Ascendant down there and he’s like, ‘Hey, have DJ caddie for you, he’s a really cool guy,’ and DJ actually played golf with my dad growing up in Colorado, so I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect.’
So DJ carried my clubs for the week, and it was raining one of the rounds, and he left his rain jacket in one of the pockets that I obviously never use, and three months later at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, I didn’t bring any rain gear to northern California, and so I was going to go get a rain jacket from somewhere, and I was like, ‘Ahh, I might as well look through my bag,’ and I looked through every pocket, and sure enough, there’s his rain jacket. I’m like, ‘Perfect, I’ll use this.’
Sunday at Fortinet, when I found that rain jacket, it saved me. Obviously it was going to rain. I had probably the biggest round of my career so far on that day, shot 64 and it put me into third place for that tournament, and everything kind of took place after that. It was one of the biggest weeks of my life.
Right after that, I knew that I would be able to buy the house that I wanted in Vegas and keep that my place (while I) travel, kind of my home.
10. We were on vacation in Colorado last summer, and I was having fun and kind of thought my card was locked up for the TOUR, and my dad’s like, ‘You’re going to be known as Mr. 26 again,’ this and that, he’s always been negative in that aspect, and my mom and I kind of just laugh at him, sometimes.
Then you just see your name fall and fall and fall, and you realize that the points are probably getting closer, and he’s like, ‘Just go play.’ So I end up playing (the Price Cutter Charity Championship) and I finish second, and it ended up securing my card for sure.