Nick Taylor has battled the wind and Phil Mickelson to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his second career victory.
With the gallery eager to see Mickelson add a record sixth victory at Pebble Beach, Taylor showed plenty of moxie in building a five-shot lead at the turn and then holding on when 65km/h gusts blasted the Monterey Peninsula.
He closed with a 2-under 70 for a four-shot victory over Kevin Streelman (68), while Mickelson, who closed within two shots with four holes to play, shot 74 and finished alone in third.
He has won, been runner-up twice and finished third in his last four starts at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
However he did produce the moment of the tournament on the seventh hole, somehow salvaging a par despite his tee shot landing deep in the greenside bunker.
Commentators gave him next-to-no hope of getting his second shot close to the flag given the tricky lie, but he somehow managed to roll it within two feet with an extraordinary shot.
“That’s unbelievable,” one TV commentator said.
“That is the shot of the year for me.”
As for Mickelson, he admitted the unreal shot was in the top five of his career.
Shot of the year!!!!— Gary Muller (@focusmoe2) February 9, 2020
Stupid good.— Mack (@MackMcTiernan) February 9, 2020
Pure class— Concierge Golf IRL (@ConciergegolfIE) February 8, 2020
Awesome. I could hit 1000 shots and never get that close.— James Manczynski (Nickelbeer) (@JManczynski) February 8, 2020
Nick Taylor savours breakthrough victory
Taylor won in his fourth start as a PGA Tour rookie at the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, at the time an opposite-field event that didn't feature any of the top players.
He went 146 starts on the PGA Tour until his next victory, and it was a big one.
The victory gets him into the Masters for the first time, along with the PGA Championship up the coast at Harding Park in May.
In his sixth year on tour, Taylor has played only two majors as a pro.
“That was amazing,” Taylor said. “I believed I could do it because I've done it before. But to do it in that fashion, playing with Phil, gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Taylor started the final round with a one-shot lead over Mickelson, and they were tied after Lefty got up-and-down from a bunker on the par-5 second.
Seven holes later, Taylor had a five-shot lead.
He holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the fourth, a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fifth, and then he holed a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 sixth hole, the kind of short-game shot everyone expected out of Mickelson.
And then it got ugly for Mickelson.
He went over the green at No. 8 and played an aggressive chip that rolled by the flag, down the slope and back into the fairway.
He pitched the next one too far and made double bogey, and then made bogey on the ninth as Taylor holed a 7-foot birdie to go five shots ahead.
Thanks to the wind, it wasn't quite over.
Five holes later, Mickelson had cut the lead to two despite having only one birdie putt, a tap-in on No. 10.
Taylor ran into tree trouble off the tee at No. 11, flew the green into a back bunker on No. 12 and then took double bogey on the par-5 14th hole when he found a bunker off the tee, could only advance it about 100 yards and took five to reach the green.
The wind was blowing so hard at that point that Taylor's cap blew off his head and he had to chase it down the fairway before hitting his third shot from 227 yards away.
Mickelson, however, missed his chances to capitalise on Taylor's mistakes.
He came up short of the 11th green from just under 100 yards with Taylor in trouble. He didn't hit a green in regulation after his tap-in birdie on the 10th until his tee shot on the par-3 17th that settled 40 feet away.
Taylor seized control by chipping in for birdie on the 15th for a three-shot lead, and the knockout punch was his tee shot to 6 feet below the hole for birdie on the 17th.
He finished at 19-under 268, earning a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
with Associated Press