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Love, perspective fuel Taylor’s improbable comeback

Life changing win is a dream come true

Eleven years ago, Vaughn Taylor won his second PGA Tour event. Like the first one, it came opposite a World Golf Championships, so he knew he hadn’t exactly beaten the biggest names in the game.

In the ensuing years, he experienced both the highs - a Ryder Cup spot - and the lows - losing his Tour card -- of being a golf pro. But then his confidence deserted him. So did his game. 

A week ago, playing in his second straight Web.com Tour event in Bogota, Colombia, Taylor was stricken by a stomach virus so severe he needed nourishment from an IV and ended up withdrawing after just a handful of holes.

Last weekend, he flew to California on Saturday rather than return home to Georgia because the flight was cheaper. As first alternate for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his spot was not even guaranteed until Carl Pettersson withdrew.

So naturally, by the end of the weekend, there was Vaughn Taylor rallying from a six-stroke deficit to defeat Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson on one of golf’s most iconic courses.

Eleven years after that last victory, Taylor has job security again, fully exempt through the 2017-18 season and ranked 15th on the FedExCup. 

And come April, the man who grew up and still lives in the Augusta, Ga., area will be playing in his Super Bowl the rest of us called the Masters for the first time since 2008.

“I just kept working, kept grinding.” Taylor said almost shyly. “And I can’t believe it actually happened today.”

Taylor closed with a 6-under 66, surging into the lead with a string of four consecutive birdies and a back-nine 31. He then survived an anxious 20 minutes waiting to see whether Mickelson could post the tying birdie on the iconic 18th hole.

When Mickelson missed his 5-footer, Taylor claimed the $1.26 million paycheck. No longer will he have to worry about baggage fees or Monday qualifiers.

“You get out here, and you have success, and you expect to have it all the time,” Taylor said. “And that’s not really the way it works.

“The best players in the game don’t play good every week and in my case, I didn’t play well for quite a few years. And looking back on it, I wish I could have done it a little differently and appreciated it a little bit more and enjoyed the ride... I’ll enjoy this, though.”

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