PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Sending his regrets

Ben Taylor never dreamed he’d be so happy to miss his first Players Championship

March 06, 2023

Ben Taylor during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The 30-year-old Enlishman is getting married this week and will miss his first Players Championship.

Icon Sportswire

ORLANDO — Pardon Ben Taylor if his mind was elsewhere Sunday at Bay Hill, where a final-round 76 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational dropped him from inside the top 20 at the start the day into a tie for 53rd place. The 30-year-old Englishman has played seven of the last eight weeks. He needs a break.

He’s also getting married this week, which is why when you see his name as the one player inside the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings not competing at the upcoming Players Championship, you understand he has an excused absence.

The story about the overlap, as you can probably imagine, has all sorts of golf parallels.

Taylor was playing on the Korn Ferry Tour last year when he asked his girlfriend Taryn Enea for her hand in marriage. That was during the weekend of the Masters. A month later they found their dream wedding venue in West Palm Beach, Fla., and both agreed they wanted a 2023 spring wedding date. The only two weekends available? The Saturday of the Players (March 11) and the Saturday of the Masters (April 8).

Never dreaming that Taylor would be eligible to play in either, the couple selected March 11.

“I thought one is difficult [to qualify for] and the other, well, you can’t not play the Masters,” he said. Taylor has not qualified for the Masters, the only way he could qualify at this point is to win a tour event in the next month.

But Taylor finished inside the top 10 in Korn Ferry Tour points last year to earn his PGA Tour card and he’s already collected three top-five finishes this season—Houston Open (third), Sony Open (T-4) and most recently at the Honda Classic (T-5). He and Enea live in Palm Beach Gardens near PGA National.

“After my finish at Sony Open, those that knew what they’re talking about said that I would be in the Players,” said Taylor, No. 106 in the World Ranking. “From that moment onwards, I knew I would miss a tournament that I was going to be in. I never even thought about changing the date. I like living a life with as less stress as possible. We already do it enough to ourselves on the golf course.”

Although steadfast in the decision, it still hasn’t kept others from nudging Taylor some, urging him to reconsider. Fellow Englishman Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champ, played with Taylor during the final round Sunday at Bay Hill. When the two finished their round Willett, jokingly, asked Taylor if he was sure he didn’t want to think about playing the first two rounds of the Players just to see what would happen. If he missed the cut, he would have plenty of time to get to the wedding. If he was in contention, well, they’d figure it out.

“I’ve had many people offer to help get me to the Players and back with very nice transportation,” Taylor said. “We’ve looked at all avenues, but those that take a jab at me know [the decision is final].”

Taylor isn’t sure he’ll even watch the Players, saying he doesn’t watch much golf on TV during weeks he doesn’t play, just like he doesn’t pay much attention to leaderboards while he is playing. He’s preparing for a long career on the PGA Tour and missing the biggest event he’s ever been eligible for is just part of the story, something he hopes people will talk about next year if he does play at Sawgrass.

“I need a week off and couldn’t be more thrilled to have all my friends and family, closest relatives in the States and England come and celebrate the special day,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be there next year.”

After the wedding? Taylor is playing in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook, of course. And wife Taryn will be by his side.

What about the honeymoon?

“I haven’t messed up those dates,” he said. “We’re going in December.”