It could be called a cliche because it’s said so often, but it’s true that newcomers to the PGA Tour usually go through trial and error, especially when they’re in contention, to which they respond that the more times they’re in that position, the better the chance of a breakthrough moment happening.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, which is also a cliche, but also true as Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., proved in Jackson, Miss., on Sunday when he won the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Taylor chose to break with convention, looking every bit the veteran in posting a six-under 66 with a couple of major winners in playing partners David Toms and Lucas Glover looking on.
In posting scores of 67-69-70-66, he recorded just six bogeys in his overall 16-under performance and his putting was spot on the final day as he erased a four-shot deficit to win by two, but don’t take from that win in only his fourth attempt as a PGA Tour rookie that there weren’t rough patches along the way.
Earlier this year, the former No. 1 amateur in the world went through one patch during the Web .com Tour that it seemed so unlikely that he’d even be playing regularly on the PGA Tour, let alone becoming Canada’s first winner on tour in five years.
In one stretch from the beginning of May until mid-July, Taylor missed seven of eight cuts and in 24 events, he had just three top 10s. It’s fair to say that in the middle of the Web .com season, he was where Adam Hadwin was the year before.
Yet, despite spinning their wheels over the past couple of seasons, both graduated to the PGA Tour.
Hadwin turned his season around completely and won combined regular season/Web .com Finals money title to earn a full membership and other plums like playing in the Players Championship.
Taylor, on the other hand, needed a final round 63 on the final day of the Web .com Tour Championship at TPC Sawgrass to finish in a tie for 21st. That left him 37th on the priority list through the Web .com Tour finals, which earned him graduation to the PGA Tour.
“To be honest, this year, if you talked to me in June, July or August, I wouldn’t have seen this at all. I was struggling for a bit,” Taylor told me in this story afterwards.
Four events in, his life has changed from a guy hoping to improve his lot through the next reshuffle to winning $720,000, getting a two-year exemption on tour and goodies such as entry into the Players Championship and PGA Championship,
“It certainly opens doors for many possibilities that I wouldn’t have had with a top 10 or whatever. It helps my status this early in the year,” said Taylor.
“Now, with over the two year exemption, it’s very surreal,” he added.
It is surreal because it’s not supposed to happen, or at least that’s the theory.
Taylor’s wife Angie was working as a social worker in Abbotsford, B.C., while her husband was winning his first tour event. She’ll arrive in Jackson on Monday to accompany him to the OHL Classic of Mayakoba this week. “I was running all around, so I wasn’t able it talk to her for 20 minutes or so. She was anticipating a call, so, yeah, she’s very excited and I’m happy to see her (Monday). Unfortunately, she wasn’t there for my first win, but hopefully she will be out here for more and more to come,” said Taylor … In Sunday’s final round, Taylor took just 27 putts, including a three-putt on his final hole … The Canadian team of Austin Connelly and Corey Conners won the Talhade Cup in Buenos Aires on Sunday. David Kaplan of Golf Canada has the story here.