Nick Taylor of Canada has only one PGA Tour victory, but has been a fixture near the top of leaderboards and he’s there again.
The 31-year-old Taylor scrambled for par on the first two holes before playing his next six holes in 6-under-par, including an eagle, en route to a 8-under 63 that gave him a one-stroke lead over Brian Harman after one round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin http://tpc.com/summerlin in Las Vegas.
“The first two holes, I actually hit pretty good drives,” said Taylor, who won the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship. “I had a little bit of mud on the ball, so it just kind of took off oddly.
“Was able to make two good par saves, and from there was able to hit a bunch of greens, make some putts. (The eagle) always makes the round pretty easy.”
Taylor, who tied for 10th last week in the Safeway Open at Silverado in Napa, drove the green on the 315-yard 15th hole while playing the back nine first, and sank his five-foot putt for the eagle. He also birdied all three par-5 holes.
The left-handed Harman collected four birdies on the front nine and closed out his bogey-free 64 with three more in a row.
Phil Mickelson, playing perhaps his best golf since claiming his 44th PGA Tour victory at Pebble Beach in February, started with a bogey on the 10th hole and then used a new putter to rattle off seven birdies to post a 65 that left him in a tie for third Brian Gay, Sam Ryder, Brian Stuard and Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley and Stanford.
McNealy was tied for the lead before making bogeys on the last two holes,
“I drove it well, hit a lot of fairways, and I did that yesterday in the pro-am, too,” said Mickelson, who is playing in Las Vegas for the first time since 2005 after missing the cut last week at Silverado. “I did it at home. I had a great few days at home practicing. Right now, my iron-play is back. It was a very weak spot of my game this past year. It’s back to where it has been.
“The first few putts I hit with this putter, I noticed a real difference. It was more stable. What I found was from six feet in, I was much more efficient. For me, a good putting round is making every putt inside six feet.
“I didn’t really make any 12-, 15-, 20-footers today, but I made every putt inside six or eight feet and didn’t give away any shots because of that.”
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, ranked ninth in the world, made six birdies on the back nine to shoot 67 and is tied for eighth with seventh-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, Adam Scott of Australia, Adam Schenk, Patton Kizzire, Daniel Berger, Troy Merritt, Chase Koepka, Bronson Burgoon, Rob Oppenehim, Dylan Wu and John Huh of Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge.
Top-ranked Brooks Koepka opened his season with a 70 by closing with a nine-foot birdie putt and is in a tie for 85th that includes Cameron Champ of Sacramento, who claimed his second PGA Tour title last week in the Safeway Open.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html