Two years ago, a snapped anchor line in a Georgia river nearly cost Vaughn Taylor his life. On Sunday, the view of a different body of water was the sweetest thing he’s seen in a decade.
Taylor, who started the day six shots behind leader Phil Mickelson, rallied past the surefire Hall of Famer and won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am when Mickelson lipped out a five-foot putt on No. 18 that would have forced a playoff.
Mickelson had been the leader throughout the first few rounds, but struggled to stay under par on Sunday. He entered No. 17 two strokes down but drain a 13-foot putt to close within a stroke. His approach shot on No. 18 got him within five feet, but he lipped out the putt that would have given him another birdie.
Taylor, who last won on the Tour in 2005, couldn’t even watch as Mickelson set up for the final putt, preferring to look at his toddler daughter as the crowd gasped and his wife and supporters began pounding him on the back in congratulations.
“It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t make that one, “Mickelson said of the final putt.
Taylor overcame two bogeys on the front nine and ran off four straight birdies between 13 and 16 to put the pressure on Mickelson. Lefty was 16-under through the first three rounds, with only three birdies total, then had two back-to-back on 4 and 5, and two more on 11 and 14.
Five other players finished within five strokes of the lead , including Swedes Jonas Blixt (-15) and Freddie Jacobson (-14), American Patrick Reed (-12), and Justin Rose (-12).
While Mickelson missed the chance for his first win since the 2014 Open Championship, he proved once again that he has rounded back into top form so far in the 2016 season, with two Top 10 finishes (and another in 11th) among his four starts so far.