by Brad Ziemer for British Columbia Golf
Nick Taylor has some great memories of the U.S. Open, but they are distant. He now has a chance to create some new ones. After a 10-year wait, Taylor is finally heading back to the U.S. Open.
Taylor sailed through a 36-hole sectional qualifier in Dallas on Monday to earn a spot in next month’s 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on California’s Monterey Peninsula.
The 31-year-old pro from Abbotsford, B.C. carded rounds of 66 and 65 to finish at 10-under par. That made him co-medalist with fellow PGA TOUR member Brendon Todd.
A field of 102 players competed for the 10 spots into the U.S. Open that were available at the Dallas sectional, which was played at Bent Tree Country Club and the Northwood Club. “It has been 10 years, so it’s about time, right,” Taylor said with a laugh over the phone from Dallas.
Taylor, who was twice named the PNGA Men’s Player of the Year (2008, 2009), last played in the U.S. Open in 2009 at Bethpage Black, site of last week’s PGA Championship. He fired a seven-under 65 in the second round and went on to finish tied for 36th place, earning low amateur honors. “It was funny, I told some people that with the PGA at Bethpage last week it kind of hit me that it had been 10 years since I had been there,” Taylor said. “It’s amazing how that time has flown by.
“A lot of memories came back watching the PGA. The second round definitely stands out. The weather was another crazy memory. I remember not playing at all Thursday. I played like 32 holes on the Friday and when I shot that 65 it wasn’t all on the same day. I had to come back on Saturday morning to finish it. I didn’t tee off Saturday night, played a bunch of golf Sunday and into Monday.”
The fact that this year’s U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach, a course he loves, made qualifying even more special for Taylor. He has played well at Pebble Beach, which along with Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club, is the site of the annual Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA TOUR.
Taylor tied for 10th there in 2017 and has had two other top-30 finishes (T28th this year and T30 in 2016). “I think the golf course suits my game,” Taylor said. “I have played there a bunch the last five years. Length is not as important as some other venues.”
Taylor said he felt well rested after a week off on Monday and played well all day in windy conditions. “I hit it great. I assumed I was in pretty good shape with a few holes to go, so it was nice to have a pretty stress-free finish.”
Taylor was delighted to snap his U.S. Open drought after so many unsuccessful attempts to qualify.
“The first couple of years after I turned pro I may have missed a couple of local qualifiers,” he said. “And the last six or seven years I just haven’t been able to get through sectionals. The last couple of years I have maybe missed by a couple shots, but other than that I really haven’t been that close.” Taylor will remain in the Dallas area. He’s in the field for this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.