Taylor excels at Q-School, gains Tour access

Abbotsford golfer Nick Taylor is guaranteed at least eight starts on the Tour next season, by virtue of his terrific performance at Q-School. - Dan Kinvig file photo
Abbotsford golfer Nick Taylor is guaranteed at least eight starts on the Tour next season, by virtue of his terrific performance at Q-School.
— image credit: Dan Kinvig file photo

Nick Taylor will be back home in Abbotsford for Christmas, and he's already got the gift he wanted most.

The 25-year-old pro golfer is the proud owner of a shiny new Tour card, by virtue of a terrific performance at Q-School this past week.

Taylor was among a field of 150 golfers competing at PGA West’s TPC Stadium and Nicklaus courses in La Quinta, Calif., chasing exemptions for the 2014 season, which would be awarded to the top 45 golfers (plus ties).

Taylor excelled throughout the Q-School marathon – he wasn't over par in any of the six rounds, and finished tied for 11th at 19 under par. That means he's earned exemptions through the first eight events next season on the Tour, which is one step below the PGA Tour.

Taylor was one stroke back of a top-10 finish, which would have yielded an additional four tournament exemptions. But it's hard to find fault with his performance during Tuesday's final round – on one of the most pressure-packed days of his career, he carded a bogey-free, five-under 67 and ended up as the top Canadian in the field.

"It wasn't a huge deal (to finish just outside the top 10)," Taylor told The News on Wednesday, noting that he can earn additional exemptions by playing well over the first eight events. "Obviously the difference between 45th and 46th is much bigger.

"I'm excited to get out there and play new golf courses, travel, and see what my game shows out there."

Taylor joins fellow Abbotsford native Adam Hadwin on the Tour next season. Hadwin, heading into his third season on the circuit, is fully exempt by virtue of his top-75 finish on the money list in 2013.

Taylor wasn't thrilled with his first three rounds – he sat at five under par, but felt he'd hit the ball better than his score indicated. He just wasn't draining many putts.

But after wrapping up his third round with a deflating double-bogey, he bounced back with a five-under 67 in the fourth round at the Nicklaus course on Sunday. Then on Monday, he put together what he termed "by far my best round" of the event – a four-under 68 on the tougher Stadium course.

On Tuesday, he fashioned three consecutive birdies on holes two through four to really take the pressure off as far as finishing in the top-45.

"It was one of those days where if you get off to a bit of a rocky start, it can put a lot of pressure on you," he said. "I was lucky enough to hit a lot of good shots early and make some putts, and it gave me an opportunity to play a lot more conservative the rest of the way. I hit a lot of greens and made a lot of really easy pars, which is all I needed to do. That was nice."

Following a Christmas break, Taylor will fly down to Phoenix in mid-January to begin preparations for the Tour season, which begins in February.

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