Abbotsford's Taylor Ups His Play In The Nick Of Time

Don't Look Now, But Nick Taylor Is Movin' On Up In The FedEX Cup Points Race - Image Courtesy VGT

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Very quietly, which is kind of his style, Nick Taylor is putting together a solid year on the PGA TOUR.

This past weekend in North Carolina, the Abbotsford native finally got the top-10 result at the Wells Fargo Championship that he felt he should have had at both the Valero Texas Open and the RBC Heritage tourneys in April.

Taylor closed with a one-under 71 at the Wells Fargo, birdieing the 72nd hole to finish inside the top 10 in a tie for eighth place.

“The last month I have played really well,” Taylor told British Columbia Golf in a telephone interview. “The whole year I have felt like I've been hitting it well. I just kind of felt like I haven’t been scoring great.”

That had been especially true on weekends. At both the Texas Open and RBC Heritage tourneys, Taylor was in position to register a top-10 or even contend for a win heading into Sunday.

But he instead faded and had to settle for a tie for 22nd in both events. “I've been giving myself chances to win and all three of my last individual events could have been top 10s quite easily,” Taylor said. “So it has been going really well. It has been consistent, which is nice.”

Taylor’s solid play of late has moved him up to 80th on the FedEx Cup points list and given him some breathing room. He must stay inside the top 125 to retain his exempt status for next year. Taylor admits it has felt a little different playing this year without the security of an exemption in his back pocket.

After winning early in his rookie year in the fall of 2014, Taylor earned exempt status through the end of this season. This year, he has no such luxury. “It has definitely been on my mind knowing I had to play well or I am not going to be out here next year or I have to go back to Finals or whatever.

But I also feel like my game is better than it ever has been so I am more confident that way. I had a decent fall so I wasn’t in any sort of panic mode. I am making a lot of cuts. I’m giving myself chances on the weekend and I haven’t quite got the results I’ve been looking for, but I am trending in the right direction the last four weeks.”

Taylor has made 13 of 18 cuts this year and his scoring average of 70.993 is nearly a stroke lower than it was in his rookie season of 2015. Taylor is also making lots of birdies. He has 207 of them this season, which ranks 16th on the PGA TOUR. And only two PGA TOUR players have more than the nine eagles Taylor has recorded this year.

Image courtesy UFV

Always One To Give Back, Nick Taylor Regularly Plays In Local Events Such As The Vancouver Golf Tour Whenever He's Back Home

He says the problem has been he’s making too many mistakes that are costing him bogeys or worse. “I think the last three or four weeks I have just limited the mistakes,” he says. Taylor says it was during the West Coast swing earlier this year that he realized just how much his mistakes were hurting him. He tied for 10th at Pebble Beach, despite lots of bogeys.

The following week at the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club, Taylor tied for 55th. “I remember looking when DJ (Dustin Johnson) won at Riviera, if I had had the same number of bogeys as he had I would have lost by like, two shots. It wasn’t really the birdies, it was all the mistakes. I have kind of limited those and that has helped.”

Taylor switched to cross-handed putting before last month’s RBC Heritage tourney and has liked the results. “My mechanics and everything are just better and more consistent so it has been nice,” he says. “I have been really consistent and solid inside six or seven feet, so that has freed up a lot of other areas.”

Taylor also worked hard on his wedge game, which he says had been costing him dearly. “I was looking at my stats from 75 to 125 yards and I was really poor. My proximity wasn’t great, I was actually over par from those ranges in the fairway which is not going to get it done. It was almost nice to see something, a big enough flaw in my game, where I could work on it because I knew I had been driving it great. And I was chipping pretty well on the par 5s. So I have worked hard on my wedge play.”

Taylor acknowledges it felt good to get that elusive top 10 at the Wells Fargo after letting a couple of recent opportunities slip through his fingers. He hit his best shot of the tournament -- a 5-wood from 257 yards -- to within eight feet on the par 5 18th hole on Sunday.

“I gave myself a great chance to make an eagle,” he says. “Unfortunately, I didn’t make that, but I had an easy birdie. It was a nice way to end the tournament and get that top 10. It was definitely nice to finish that off when two weeks in a row I had a good chance and couldn’t do it.”

As well as he is playing, Taylor would like to be heading to this weeks Players Championship. But by missing the top 125 on last year’s FedEx Cup points list (he was 129th) Taylor does not have a spot in the field.

“With how I am playing I would love to be there but it actually sets up my schedule fine,” he says. “I’ll have this week off and then play four in a row. If I keep playing well I know I will be there in the future.”