News & Opinion

Taylor scrambles for return to Pebble

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The U.S. Open's Championship Trophy will be awarded for a sixth time at Pebble Beach Golf Links — the previous five were 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, and 2010. [Photo: USGA]

DUBLIN, Ohio – Vaughn Taylor has made a good living on the PGA Tour in his 21 years of playing professional golf.

At 43, Taylor has earned nearly $17 million in his career. With a T-58 last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, he moved to $916,896 for the 2018-19 season.

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Vaughn Taylor

Sitting at 83rd on the money list and 190th in the world rankings, Taylor can be characterized as a journeyman, with three career wins, the most recent in 2016.

That victory at the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is the reason to take a look at Taylor after the first round at the Memorial Tournament, where he shot 5-under 67, his best score in 25 career rounds at Muirfield Village. He held a share of third place, two strokes behind leader Ryan Moore (scores).

With the U.S. Open just two weeks away, Taylor will try to return to Pebble Beach to play in what would be only his third U.S. Open.

“I go to D.C. at Woodmont,” Taylor said of the U.S. Open qualifying site Monday in Maryland. “I haven't had any success here or [at another qualifier in] Memphis for many, many years. So just to try to change it up, do something different.”

In 1998, Taylor, played in his first U.S. Open as an amateur at The Olympic Club and then again in 2007 at Oakmont Country Club, both times missing the cut and never breaking par. He said that Pebble Beach could be different.

“I think it's the length,” said Taylor, who ranked 192nd in driving distance, at 281.8 yards. “That's probably the shortest course on Tour, and I'm one of the shortest hitters on Tour. If I can get a lot of wedges in my hand and I can reach the par 5s, that's pretty much it.”

Taylor says that his game has been consistent this year, but he has had few situations in which he has contended. Earlier in May, however, Taylor tied for 13th at the Wells Fargo and tied for 17th at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Now, Taylor extended his consistent play in May with one of his best rounds of the year. He made an eagle, holing a 6-foot putt at the par-5 fifth hole, and added five birdies against two bogeys, including a 5 on the most difficult hole of the day, the par-4 18th.

“I played well today; did a lot of things good,” Taylor said. “Unfortunately, the last hole, hit my tee shot there, things just didn't unfold right. Made a lot of good saves out there; kept the momentum going.”

With a 7:42 a.m. EDT tee time today, Taylor will get the scoring conditions that Moore and second-place Jordan Spieth enjoyed Thursday. That could help propel Taylor into contention this weekend, a position that has been elusive.

Just as importantly, Taylor wants to ride good play into Monday and the 36-hole qualifier.

“This is definitely one I wanted to play in,” Taylor said of qualifying for this year’s U.S. Open. “That's why I'm trying different qualifiers, to see if I can do something to get in. I just want to get in.”

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli