Canada’s Nick Taylor enjoys perfect end to thrilling week at Pebble Beach

Nick Taylor, of Canada, holds up his trophy on the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (Eric Risberg/AP)

On Father’s Day last year, Nick Taylor posted on Instagram that he and his wife Andie were expecting their first child.

Charlie Wells Taylor was born on Oct. 24 and was there in his mother’s arms to help celebrate Taylor’s second PGA Tour win, which came Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Funny how things work out sometimes.

“It was super special,” Taylor said of the celebration he had with his family at Pebble Beach. “I remember watching (fellow PGA Tour-winner) Peter Malnati in the fall and he said, ‘Once I have a family, I’m going to dream about having them walk on the green after a win’ and I couldn’t agree more.”

Taylor was the first Canadian wire-to-wire victor on the PGA Tour in the modern era after his four-stroke triumph at Pebble Beach. His first PGA Tour win came five years ago at the Sanderson Farms Championship, an opposite-field event on the schedule.

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The win not only gives Taylor a tidy US$1.4-million payday, but also an exemption into the Masters – something his previous triumph did not do. Taylor’s victory means there will be four Canadians in the Masters in April, tied for the most ever (Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, and Mike Weir already locked up spots in the field).

When Taylor was being recruited for university golf teams, his coach didn’t think he’d have to wait nearly half a decade between celebrating PGA Tour wins. Matt Thurmond knew there was something special about Taylor.

“For me, moments like this make me think, ‘Oh this is just the beginning’ and I don’t enjoy it as much as I should… because the guy just won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and it’s huge and should be enough,” Thurmond told Sportsnet.ca by phone. “But honestly, I felt like Nick – for as good as I know he is – I’m surprised he hasn’t won more and I think he will win more.”

Thurmond, who is now the men’s head golf coach at Arizona State University but who recruited Taylor from Abbotsford, B.C., to join him at the University of Washington – where Thurmond coached for 10-plus years – got to bear witness to one of the finest runs by a Canadian golfer in NCAA history. Taylor was a two-time All-American and reached No. 1 in the world amateur golf ranking.

“To be able to be a small part of all that with him was such a thrill,” said Thurmond. “He’s just an amazing guy.”

It wasn’t an easy week – no PGA Tour victory is – but what was more impressive than the win was the way Taylor managed to do it.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a funky event on the schedule that pits PGA Tour pros alongside amateurs from the worlds of business, entertainment, and sports (Taylor’s amateur partner for the week was Golf Digest’s Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde) and has them play three different courses before returning to Pebble Beach for the final round Sunday.

Not only that, but in Sunday’s final group was Taylor alongside Phil Mickelson, who has more wins at Pebble Beach in his career (five) than Taylor had just top-10 finishes the last three seasons (four) prior to Sunday.

It was a match-play scenario as the day went on, with Mickelson and Taylor separating themselves from the chasing pack by a number of strokes.

Taylor says the pair chatted early on and Mickelson was complimentary of his good shots. Things quieted down through the back nine as Mickelson struggled and Taylor began to pull away even more.

“It’s disappointing certainly to have not won, but I got outplayed,” said Mickelson. “I mean Nick played better than I did.”

Yes, he did.

The week belonged to Taylor, a Canadian trying for his second PGA Tour title at a course he calls “one of the best” on the Tour.

“When you look back at a week like this, good things happen when you win,” Taylor said. “It’s easy to forget bad breaks when you get good breaks and it’s easy to forget good breaks when you get bad ones… but I definitely got a lot of good ones this week.”

And if you ask him about his week, it wouldn’t really have matter if he won or lost because of what he gets to go home to.

“I still am eager and driven to do well but when I get home, all I’m focusing on is what I can do to help Andie out, or just watch Charlie grow,” he said. It’s a big new chapter of my life.”

But the win did mean a million-dollar payday, a trip to the Masters, and a multi-year exemption on the PGA Tour – and it was all celebrated with a growing, happy family.

Life’s pretty good for Nick Taylor.

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