This years AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am came right down to the wire for a thrilling finish. Final round leader Phil Mickelson played the front nine at even par with two birdies and two bogeys. Vaughn Taylor, who started his back nine 4 shots behind Mickelson, made a birdie on the par four 10th hole, and would later birdie 4 straight holes.
Taylor pared the famous par three 17th hole and had one hole to play with a two shot lead. Taylors drive on the tricky par five 18th landed behind the cypress tree guarding the right side of the fairway. Taylor hit a punch hook hybrid around the tree leaving him an easy up-and-down from the fairway. Taylor was finished in the clubhouse leading by 2 shots over Mickelson, who was a few groups behind.
Mickelson continued to struggle before coming to the 17th hole. Lefty hit his approach to 10 feet of the pin and sunk his birdie put to get within one shot of Taylor. His drive on 18 landed down the center of the fairway. Mickelson had about 250 yards to the pin, but the hole was playing much longer due to the strong wind coming off the Pacific Ocean.
Lefty hit his hybrid to just short of the green leaving a relatively easy up-and-down for birdie to force a playoff. His chip landed 5 feet from the hole but Mickelson lipped out the birdie putt. Vaughn Taylor was victorious on the PGA Tour for the first time in 11 years. Mickelson was 23/23 on putts from 5 feet and in but missed his most important one of the week.
Vaughn Taylor’s first win in 10 years means that he is eligible to play in this year’s Masters Tournament in April. He is the first player to qualify this year by virtue of winning. Mickelson just missed out on winning his 43rd PGA Tour event and a record-breaking 5th AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am. Mickelson’s winless streak continues, as he has not won since the 2013 Open Championship.
The PGA Tour Season continues this week with the playing of the Northern Trust Open. This is the final event on the west coast before the PGA Tour shifts to Florida for several events in the Sunshine State. Those expected to compete include world number one Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, and Adam Scott. First round coverage kicks off on Thursday from Riviera Country Club just outside Los Angeles.
By Matt Nadworny