Nick Taylor Beats Pebble Beach – In Wind

Canadian Nick Taylor Scores Second Career Victory at Windy Pebble Beach 

Canadian Nick Taylor turned pro about ten years ago, and although he has had good moments, not a lot of victories have come his way. Until this week, the first and last one was the Sanderson Farms  in 2015. How life can change in one prestige-laden and wind-swept weekend. Taylor outlasted Kevin Streelman by four strokes. In the process, gave some thought about losing his nerve, then decided he didn’t want to, and went on to win the  annual Pebble Beach pro-am.

Without a doubt, this win will come as quite a shock to the Taylor family budget. Taylor’s paycheck came to 1, 404,000 plus. The beauty of that, however temporary, is that it goes even farther in his native Canada, and that our ravenous Uncle Sam can’t have it. I’m not sure if Canada has such a symbol – maybe Uncle Pierre or something like that. They’ll get their share, but Taylor is suddenly prospering. There’s more to it, though. In this case, it’s the course – it’s Pebble Beach, one of the most dangerous places in the world to experience driving inaccuracy or high winds. Taylor figured it out.

Playing in severe wind, for those of us who never got past the weekend stage, is intricate, and the pros have a load of strategies for it. Obeying the advice to play it low, my only answer is to tee it down. Any other swing change will take me days or weeks to get used to. Taylor deserves the prestige this course brings. For most of us, our municipal courses offer us the chance to at least survive if we stray off the fairway. We may be behind a tree or on a sprinkler head, but the worst shot we usually face is a chip back to the fairway. I’ve walked some of the holes at Pebble Beach, without clubs, and this is different – so different. To the left is a cliff, and if you don’t stay on the right side of it, with enough room to stand and address the ball, you’re toast. One can almost hear the mermaids singing, “You don’t want to hit it over here.”

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Taylor is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, but grew up in Abbotsford, British Columbia, spending his college years at the University of Washington in Seattle.  His driving average is just under 300, and his accuracy off the tee is around 70% and a bit more. His greens in regulations are a bit higher, and his scoring average is just over 69. His Fedex ranking is a respectable 13, but all those rankings are ready to jump when the new numbers come out. In addition to the deal he struck with Pebble Beach, Taylor earned himself a spot in the upcoming Masters at Augusta, and various other goodies that tour winners enjoy . He is the first Canadian winner on the men’s tour for several years, but figures to contend again.

The tragedies and triumphs we have seen through the years on this dangerous stretch of golfing ground are legion. Drives put out to sea at the worst possible moments have dashed multiple stroke leads, and nerves have routinely collapsed  from the sheer pressure of it all. On a course where the trees bend inland from the onslaught of coastal winds, Mother Nature can send a straight drive into the first cut. A fade sent too far can reside on the adjacent fairway, or one can watch an undisciplined draw descend to Davy Jones’ Locker.

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Nick Taylor will remember and treasure this win for a long time. What such a paycheck can do to a golfer living on an expensive tour is great. He will relish the thought that he beat Mickelson and Streelman, but the real victory was over the unpredictable and vicious Pebble Beach. Anyone who has watched or played her knows how hard she is to beat.

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