Boat accident has given Taylor fresh perspective

By Rex HoggardSeptember 17, 2014, 7:56 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In the zippered reality of the Web.com Tour Finals, Vaughn Taylor is at ground zero in his professional quest to play the PGA Tour again.

With just this week’s Web.com Tour Championship remaining, Taylor is $1,107 ahead of No. 51 on the Finals money list, or – put another way - $1,107 away from spending another year on the secondary tour.

It’s been four years since Taylor contended in the big leagues, and while he showed flashes of the game that lifted him to two PGA Tour titles, it was largely forgettable season with just three top-10 finishes, including a tie for 10th place at last week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.

But as the 38-year-old went through his practice paces early Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass, professional panic was replaced by personal perspective. That’s what happens when one gazes into the cold reality of mortality.

A month ago this Monday, Aug. 11, Taylor was having a career day on the Savannah River near his home in Augusta, Ga. It was a spot he’d fished “hundreds of times,” just below a large dam in rough water but the payoff was an aching arm from all the bass he’d caught.

He was alone, not wearing a life vest and the lines he was using to keep his boat anchored, one at the front and one at the back of his boat, were old.

“I made a lot of mistakes,” Taylor admitted.

Without warning, the line anchoring the bow of his vessel broke and before he knew it his small bass boat was being swamped by water. When he entered the rough and chilly water, he originally hoped he could save the boat from sinking but within moments his concerns turned to his own life.

“It was so cold and the current was so strong, I tried to swim against it at first and realized that was a mistake,” he said. “I really thought for a minute that I could drown.”

Although he estimates he was in the water for about 10 minutes, Taylor said it felt like an hour as he floundered. A park ranger who was nearby began yelling instructions to Taylor, but he couldn’t hear what the man was saying because of the roar of the river. He was later told officials closed the dam to lessen the current.

Eventually Taylor, realized the ranger was telling him to swim with the current and he finally caught a break when a waterproof bag he was using to store his fishing tackle came into his view.

“I got lucky. It was a gift from God sending that tackle box my way,” said Taylor, who used the bag as a floatation device.

Taylor eventually made it to the bank where he spent the better part of a half hour regaining his senses. “That whole night and into the next day I just kept thinking about how close I’d come to drowning,” he said.

Taylor did have the presence of mind to turn his bilge pump on before going overboard and officials eventually recovered the aluminum boat. He used it to return to his Savannah River “honey hole” a few days after the incident with new ropes to secure his anchor along with a fresh perspective.

“That first time I went back was kind of spooky just because it so fresh in my mind. When you’re in the water, everything slows down and you start wondering if this is it,” Taylor said.

So forgive Taylor if his predicament on the Web.com Tour Finals money list this week doesn’t exactly keep him up at night. Reclaiming his PGA Tour card is important, particularly for a guy who not that long ago (2006) spent this week getting ready for a Ryder Cup. But just having the opportunity to be at TPC Sawgrass for this week’s finale is a reason to celebrate.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.