When Nick Taylor was an amateur, Derek Ingram knew he was special.
As Golf Canada’s National Head Coach, Ingram worked with Taylor, both as a junior and an amateur.
In those formative years as a golfer, Taylor displayed promise with his iron play around the greens. Ingram believed in the Winnipeg, Manitoba’s golfing skills, but more importantly his intangibles, to propel him to become a successful player on the PGA Tour.
“He was one of the best people around the greens I have ever seen,” said Ingram over the phone. “When he gets in the hunt when he’s got a chance to win, you want to have the ball to use a basketball analogy. Nick Taylor has guts.”
On Sunday playing in the gusting winds at Pebble Beach, Taylor exemplified calmness. The difficult conditions made the final round anything but normal for the Canadian. But he never lost belief in his quest for victory.
Taylor shot a final-round 70 to secure his second PGA Tour win, five years removed from his first victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
“I believe I could do it because I have done it before,” said Taylor to CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis after winning. “Doing it with these conditions, against Phil, it gives me a ton of confidence going forward.”
Taylor came into Sunday’s final round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with ten career Top 10 finishes. He has shown the ability to shoot low scores, evidenced by his first-round 63 at the 2019 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
But putting together four stellar rounds has escaped Taylor. At the 2019 Safeway Open, after shooting two opening rounds in the ’60s, the Canadian finished shooting with two scores in the 70’s, knocking him out of contention.
This week at Pebble Beach saw Taylor bring all facets of his game together. Despite ranking 108th on the PGA Tour in driving distance (298.3 yards) and 94th in strokes gained: around the green (0.094), Taylor was accurate with his driving through the swirling winds and savvy around the greens.
No better example than on the 15th hole when Taylor hit his second shot in the greenside rough. With four holes to play, the Canadian was two clear of five-time AT&T Pebble Beach winner Phil Mickelson. He had just shot four over his last four holes, including a double-bogey on the par-5 14th.
Taylor went into full resilient mode.
With a wedge in hand, he sank the tricky chip shot for birdie. Then, on the par-3 17th hole, Taylor hit a high-arching iron shot through the wind, landing the tee shot five feet from the pin. His birdie on the 17th sealed his fate into the history books, earning him AT&T Pebble Beach title honours.
With the win, Taylor becomes the first Canadian to win the event and the first to secure a wire-to-wire victory at Pebble Beach. He becomes the 7th Canadian-born PGA golfer to have multiple wins, joining Mike Weir and Stephen Ames.
With this win, Taylor becomes the 7th Canadian with multiple wins on the PGA Tour. (Weir, Knudson, Balding, Leonard, Ames, Barr).
— Bob Weeks (@BobWeeksTSN) February 9, 2020
Not only does he get 500 FedEx Points and invites to The Masters, The PLAYERS and PGA Championships, but he also builds his case to be selected for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
As Ingram explains, he hopes that this win will motivate Taylor to continue his upward trajectory as one of Canada’s best golfers.
“This win will give Nick validation as a PGA Tour golfer,” said Ingram. “It will allow him to relax and start to compete more regularly. He’s got a deep belief in himself and is going to be a guy that does even more after this.”
Main Photo: FEBRUARY 9th– Nick Taylor wins wire-to-wire, capturing his second PGA Tour title (Photo by: Getty Images).