PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Nick Taylor knew the odds were not in his favor Sunday at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Already nervous about facing Phil Mickelson for the first time with only a one-shot lead, Taylor found himself watching Lefty's short-game highlight show on the eve of their final-round pairing at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
"I was just curious, to be honest. And he hit some amazing shots," Taylor said. "I'm like, 'Well, I don't know if he can keep that up. If he can, great.' But if I keep doing what I'm doing, plugging along then try to make the guys behind me try to beat me."
Taylor created his own short-game highlights for a victory that will stay with him a long time.
He holed a bunker shot for an eagle that carried him to a five-shot lead at the turn. And when that advantage shrunk to two shots in 40 mph gusts, Taylor chipped in for a birdie on the 15th hole that all but sealed it.
Turns out Taylor had more trouble with the wind than Mickelson, and the 31-year-old Canadian managed both just fine. He never lost the lead and closed with a 2-under-par 70 for a four-shot victory over Kevin Streelman.
Mickelson, going for a record sixth title in the event and trying to repeat as champion, faded to third with a 74.
"It's disappointing certainly to have not won, but I got outplayed," the 49-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer said. "I mean, Nick played better than I did. He holed a couple of great shots. That eagle on 6, the putts he made on 4, 5 and 7 he just really played some great golf."
The rewards were more than Taylor could digest.
He won in his fourth start as a PGA Tour rookie at the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, at the time an opposite-field event that didn't feature any of the top players. He went 146 starts on the PGA Tour until his next victory, and it was a big one.
"That was amazing," Taylor said. "I believed I could do it because I've done it before. But to do it in that fashion, playing with Phil, gives me a lot of confidence going forward."
The victory gets him into the Masters for the first time, along with the PGA Championship up the coast at Harding Park in May. In his sixth year on tour, he has played only two majors as a pro.
One of those was last summer's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, after which Taylor announced he and his wife, Andie, were expecting their first child. They were waiting for him beyond the 18th green.
"You couldn't write it much better," Taylor said.
The final chapter this time was more than five hours of jumbled emotions. Taylor figured he would have been more nervous with a larger lead at the start, and then he had one in the middle. He regained the lead with a 15-foot birdie on No. 4, matched birdies with Mickelson on the par-3 fifth, holed the bunker shot on the par-5 sixth to seize control and made a seven-foot birdie on No. 9 to head to the back nine with a five-shot lead.
Mickelson contributed to Taylor's advantage, going long over the eighth green and chipping so strong that it caught the slope and rolled back to the fairway, leading to double bogey. He made bogey on No. 9, a two-shot swing.
And then the wind arrived, so strong that it was hard work to make bogey. Mickelson chipped away with a birdie at No. 10 and two pars, and he picked up another shot with a bogey on the par-5 14th, where the wind was so strong it blew Taylor's cap off his head as he faced 227 yards to the green — for his third shot.
Taylor made a double bogey. The lead was two with four holes to play.
"I had to remind myself I still had the lead, I knew I was swinging it well and just needed to hit that fairway," Taylor said.
He came up short of the green, but he had a simple chip that turned out perfectly and dropped for birdie. His final act was an 8-iron shot for a six-foot birdie putt on the 17th.
Taylor finished at 19-under 268 and earned a two-year exemption, valuable for a guy who has been fighting to keep his card the past few years.
Mickelson wasn't the only player who struggled. Dustin Johnson shot a 78. Matt Every, in the third-to-last group, shot 80. Jason Day closed with a 75.
The best round and best finish belonged to Jordan Spieth, who chipped in to save par on his final hole for a 67. It was the low round of the day and enabled Spieth to finish in a tie for ninth. That narrowly moves him back into the top 50 and makes him eligible for the World Golf Championship event in Mexico City in two weeks.
Streelman also left with a trophy. He teamed with Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald to easily win the pro-am for the second time in three years.
Former Baylor School standout Keith Mitchell closed with a 72 and tied for 32nd at 3 under.
Park, Lee victors at Victoria
MELBOURNE, Australia — South Korea's Hee Young Park, who came close to quitting golf last year, made par on the fourth hole of a three-way playoff to win the LPGA Tour's Victoria Open against compatriots Hye-Jin Choi and So Yeon Ryu.
On a course swept by a boisterous wind and as evening closed in, the three returned repeatedly to the tee on the dog-leg par-5 18th to play out a gripping finale after finishing 72 holes of regulation tied at 18-under 281.
Ryu, formerly the top-ranked women's golfer in the world, dropped out on the second playoff hole when she missed a birdie putt. Choi and Park continued until luck and nature intervened.
Choi's tee shot on the fourth playoff hole came to rest against a pine cone in light rough left of the fairway, leaving her with no choice but to chip out. Her attempt to do so came up short, she put her next shot into a hazard, dropped out,and finally reached the fringe of the green in six.
Park had an eagle putt to win the tournament on the first playoff hole, but the ball slid by the cup. She faced three more holes in tough conditions before clinching her third title on the LPGA Tour.
The tournament at the 13th Beach Golf Links also featured a European Tour tournament running alongside the women's event.
Australia's Min Woo Lee held his nerve on a day of high winds and high drama to win his first professional title in the same event his sister Minjee Lee won as an amateur in 2014 and again as a professional in 2018.
Minjee, who finished in a tie for sixth in the women's event, was beside the 18th green when Min Woo tapped in a birdie putt to win the title by two shots over New Zealand's Ryan Fox.
Lee, 21, began the final round three shots clear of countrymen Marcus Fraser and Travis Smyth, but his main challenge came unexpectedly from Fox, who shot a 64 — he made a birdie on the 16th and closed with an eagle — to move to 17 under and put pressure on the leader.
Lee led by two shots at 19 under coming to the 17th hole but made bogey and reached his final hole with only a one-shot lead over Fox.
He didn't falter. He found the fairway, then the green to leave himself a 12-foot birdie putt that stopped just inches wide of the hole. He tapped in for a win that had long been anticipated.
Eagle ends it
BOGOTA, Colombia — Chile's Mito Pereira made an eagle on the par-5 18th hole to finish off a 7-under 64 and win the Korn Ferry Tour's Country Club de Bogota Championship by two shots over Ben Kohles of the United States.
It was a big step toward a PGA Tour card for the 24-year-old Pereira, who tied for third last week in Panama in his first start of the season on the developmental circuit.
Kohles birdied the 16th and 17th holes to tie Pereira for the lead. The 29-year-old American had to lay up on the 18th, though, and settled for par and a 65.
Pereira, who also made an eagle on the 355-yard fourth hole, finished at 20-under 263. He moved to No. 2 on the points list behind Davis Riley. The top 25 at the end of the regular season earn PGA Tour cards.
American golfer John Chin (68) finished third at 17 under.
Stephan Jaeger, a former Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout, closed with a 75 and tied for 67th at par.