HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Of the millions who watched last week’s Masters, perhaps only Vaughn Taylor has the experience, and the proximity, to truly appreciate what Phil Mickelson accomplished on a warm Sunday in April.
Taylor was raised in Augusta, Ga., started attending the annual spring invitational when he was 11 years old – 1986, to be precise, but he doesn’t remember a whole lot from that historic week – and figures he’s played the National about 30 times.
All of which means that not even the bitter disappointment of not earning a spot in this year’s championship, a playoff loss to Anthony Kim the week before at the Shell Houston Open, could keep him from watching “the greatest tournament ever.”
“At first, on Thursday, I was thinking, man I wish I was there,” said Taylor, who lives about 20 minutes from Augusta National on the north side of town. “But after that I was OK.”
Taylor said he watched the majority of the broadcast all four days and was “amazed” by some of the pin placements on Thursday.
“It had the excitement back in it,” said Taylor, who is playing this week’s Verizon Heritage. “I love watching it.”
The two-time Tour winner said he went fishing on Friday and worked on his game on Saturday and Sunday at nearby Sage Valley, but made sure he was in front of the TV in time to see Mickelson’s heroic shot from the pine straw at the 13th hole for eagle.
“That ball landed on the green . . . I went crazy,” Taylor said. “Greatest shot I’ve ever seen.”