When it rains, it pours.
While the first round of the WM Phoenix Open was suspended for three-and-a-half hours Thursday after a downpour of rain that soaked the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, Nick Taylor seemed unbothered. The 2023 runner-up at the WM Phoenix Open tied the course record by shooting a career-low 11-under 60 in his first round that carried into Friday afternoon.
The Canadian, who notably won his country’s national open last summer, birdied three of his first six holes after teeing off on Thursday afternoon before play was suspended because of darkness. When his opening round resumed on Friday morning, Taylor stepped up to the tee box on the famed 16th hole and hit his tee shot to 9 feet, 2 inches before making his birdie putt. That set the tone for his remaining 11 holes.
“Yeah, obviously we got a pretty nice wave with this,” Taylor said after playing much more favorable course conditions than the players who began the tournament Thursday morning. “But I drove it great, ball in hand, and was hitting my irons nice, and I essentially made every putt I looked at.”
Taylor made 184 feet 1 inch of putts in his first round and gained 7.156 strokes on the greens, which is the most in a round on the PGA Tour since 2004. He finished his front nine by making birdie to start a streak of four in a row and added another by making a 22-footer on the fifth hole. Taylor’s best putt of the round came on the seventh when he saved par from 30 feet to keep the momentum on his side, helping him end the round with back-to-back birdies on eight and nine. He finished the round with 23 total putts.
“Yeah, it felt like I was seeing the lines great. The speed was awesome. Yeah, I don't know what to say,” Taylor said. “I've probably never putted that well. Yeah, I saw the lines great, and it was a continuation of last night.”
Taylor completed his first round just after 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, holding a five-shot lead – the largest first-round lead on Tour since 1993. The three-time PGA Tour winner could feel the love from Canadian fans all around the golf course, many traveled from north of the border to attend “The People’s Open.”
“It was awesome. A lot of Canadians come down here, as well. The crowd support has been amazing,” Taylor said. “Every year is great support. There's a lot of fans here in general, but having a lot of Canadian support has been amazing.”
The first-round leader had just about half an hour to grab a bite to eat before beginning his second round Friday afternoon. Taylor, who played for Arizona State men’s golf coach Matt Thurmond while attending the University of Washington, was excited to play more golf on Friday and keep his success on the greens going.
“It was a day that you don't want it to end. Luckily, I'm going to play another round here, so hopefully I can keep that going,” Taylor said. “But everything has worked really well.”