How Nick Taylor took down Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth's move in the right direction, and a family affair in the ISPS Handa Vic Open
Harry How/Getty Images
Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here's every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of Feb. 10.
How Taylor took down Mickelson
Ebb and flow is a given in golf, unless you are Tiger Woods in his prime, in which case it was usually far more flow than ebb. But for mortals, how one responds to ebb, especially on Sundays, is often the difference between lifting a trophy and dropping it in another’s lap.
And so it was that Canadian Nick Taylor withstood a great deal of turbulence in the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and stuck the landing, a perfect 10, according to all but the Russian judges, to conjure an old Olympic Games trope. But we digress.
Taylor took control of the AT&T with a front-nine 32 that gave him a five-stroke lead, then proceeded to squander 60 percent of it when the wind kicked up, a double bogey at the par-5 14th the most stunning blow. His one prior PGA Tour victory weighed against Phil Mickelson’s 44 suggested that though Mickelson trailed by two, Taylor would never catch him.
“After 14, probably, definitely, I'll look back on where we were having to settle down, calm yourself, remind myself that I still had a two-shot lead," Taylor said, this the turning point.
Taylor, stoic throughout the round, chipped in for birdie at 15, hit it stiff at the par-3 17th for another birdie, then enjoyed a leisurely stroll up the 18th fairway, the prettiest walk in golf without a four-stroke lead, but a heavenly one with a grip on the trophy.
This was how flow prevailed over Phil.
Spieth's excellent weekend
Jordan Spieth had the best round of the day on Sunday to conclude a strong weekend that indicated progress in his bid to regain his elite status in the game.
Spieth shot a five-under-par 67 on a difficult day at Pebble Beach Golf Links to tie for ninth, moving him back into the top 50 in the World Ranking and qualifying him for the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks. Here's a good summation of how performed on Sunday:
Weekends have been Spieth's nemesis, but he played the final 36 holes in six-under-par 138. Entering the AT&T, he ranked 193rd and 191st in third- and fourth-round scoring average, respectively, worse than his performance in the preceding season, when he was 170th and 187th.
Camilo Villegas resurfaces
A winner of four PGA Tour events, the last coming in 2014, Camilo Villegas has been missing since he shut his 2018 season down that April with a shoulder injury.
He did not play in 2019 and only returned less than a month ago on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Villegas turned up on the leader board in his third Korn Ferry Tour start, the Country Club de Bogota Championship in his native Colombia, sharing the lead in each of the first two rounds after posting scores of 64 and 65. A 69 in the third round dropped him three off the lead, and he closed with a 69 to tie for fourth, four back of winner Mito Pereira. A Chilean, Pereira eagled the 18th to win by two.
"It gave me some confidence," Villegas, 38, said after the first round, "and, like I said, it’s been 21 months and you don’t really know what to expect.”
Villegas is on a major medical extension on the PGA Tour.
Family Affair Down Under
A novel idea in its second year proved again that thinking outside the tee box is a good thing and was further enhanced by Australian siblings Min Woo Lee and Minjee Lee.
The ISPS Handa Vic Open features European Tour and LPGA events played simultaneously on the same course, in this case the 13th Beach Golf Links in Victoria, Australia.
On Sunday, Min Woo, 21, won the men’s event, his first European Tour victory, while Minjee, 23, tied for sixth in the LPGA event, finishing two strokes behind winner Hee Young Park.
Minjee, incidentally, has won the Victorian Open twice, in 2014 and 2018, though before it became an LPGA event.
“It's awesome,” Min Woo said. “Vic Open, it's the home open. Especially as it's the European Tour, it's big. I'm over the moon. Yeah, my sister and I winning the same tournament, it's pretty special. I’ve got bragging rights now, so it's even better.”
Haley Moore's Debut
LPGA rookie Haley Moore made her debut as a member of the LPGA at the ISPS Handa Vic Open and was impressive from the outset, shooting a bogey-free seven-under-par 66, one shot off the lead.
Moore, who delivered the winning point for Arizona at the 2018 NCAA Championship, followed with a 71 to make the 36-hole cut, but she missed the 54-hole cut after shooting a 79. She earned $5,494.
She summed up her week in an Instagram post:
Geoff Ogilvy, with the final word
A strong proponent of women's golf, Geoff Ogilvy wrote this for LPGA.com on the ISPS Handa Vic Open and its concept of two competitions simultaneously: "The Vic Open should open people’s eyes to the fact that our game is full of amazing golf talent. It also proves that women and men playing together can work. Tennis has been doing it for years and has clearly benefitted from it...
"The point is, golf shouldn’t be so stuck in conservative traditions. Look at the rest of the world. The Japanese Ladies Professional tour is much bigger and [more] successful than the Japanese men's tour. Women’s golf in Korea turns out record crowds and record ratings. Whenever the women’s game is presented properly, it's just as popular as the men’s game. We just have to give it the same opportunity."