Canada’s Taylor hangs on for Pebble Beach Pro-Am triumph

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Nick Taylor fired a gritty two-under par 70 last Sunday to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am as Phil Mickelson faded in his bid for a record sixth title in the United States (US) PGA Tour event.

Canada’s Taylor claimed his second tour title more than five years after he won the Sanderson Farms Championship as a rookie in November of 2014.

Leading Mickelson by one to start the day, he built his lead to five strokes at the turn only to see it dwindle to two through 14 as players battled in rapidly falling temperatures and gusting winds.

A chip-in birdie at the par-four 15th pushed Taylor’s lead back to three and he added another birdie at the par-three 17th to finish with a 19-under par total of 268.

American Kevin Streelman was second after a 68 for 272 as Mickelson – who started the day one shot behind Taylor – settled for a two-over par 74 and solo third on 273.

Nick Taylor of Canada follows his shot from the fourth tee. PHOTO: AP

“That was amazing,” Taylor said. “An up and down day. I believed I could do it because I’ve done it before, but to do it in that fashion, playing with Phil, obviously gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Taylor and Mickelson, playing together in the last group, quickly found themselves duelling as they left the field behind early.

Taylor got going with back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth, then holed out from a greenside bunker for an eagle at the sixth to stretch his lead to two even as Mickelson birdied the par-five sixth.

Taylor kept it rolling with a testing 12-footer to save par at the seventh, the picturesque par-three where his tee shot came up short in the front bunker.

The 31-year-old from Winnipeg was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the eighth, but still stretched his lead over Mickelson to three as the American made a double-bogey.

Mickelson had blasted out of a greenside bunker to two feet for a birdie at the second hole and salvaged par from a bunker at the fourth before rolling in a four-foot birdie at the fifth.

He was on the green in two at the par-five sixth, but couldn’t get his 38-foot putt to drop and settled for a tap-in birdie.

A birdie at the ninth for Taylor and a bogey for Mickelson saw them head into the back nine with Taylor leading by five.

But Mickelson birdied the 10th, and with the wind whipping and temperature dropping Taylor dropped four shots in four holes with bogeys at 11 and 12 and a double-bogey at 14.

He held his nerve, and as Mickelson faded with bogeys at 12, 14 and 16 Streelman snuck into second place with a round that featured an eagle and four back-nine birdies.