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Taylor takes on PGA field

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Blake Taylor hits practice shots for The Greenbrier PGA tournament in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A major “wow moment” happened for Blake Taylor before he even teed off last Thursday at The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., for his PGA Tour debut.

It came Tuesday during a practice round for the East Carolina rising junior while playing with PGA veteran Jim Furyk.

“That was really cool, because he has the lowest (single-round) score in PGA Tour history,” Taylor said. “He’s been a great player for a long time.”

Their interactions continued the next day.

“He came up and talked to me on the putting green. That was really neat,” said Taylor, who earned his Greenbrier spot by advancing during a playoff at a qualifying tournament held in Daniels, W.Va.

Taylor also spent time with former Pirate standout Harold Varner III, who entered Sunday tied for the Greenbrier lead and finished tied for fifth.

With his father, Mike, serving as his caddie, Taylor shot an even-par 70 in the opening round and then a 71 in Round 2 for a respectable showing of 1 over in missing the cut line of 3 under. He fared better than notables John Daly, Jimmy Walker and others.

“Most of the people following me were family and people I already knew who had followed me in other tournaments before, so I think it kind of helped that I had a lot of family there supporting me,” Taylor said. “But it was definitely different when you look up and there’s a huge leaderboard on every green and you see your name there and all the stats and stuff they keep up with.

“The biggest difference for me too was probably the driving range and putting green on Tuesday and Wednesday. In every other tournament I’ve played in, you are not used to having people there watching you practice.”

Taylor, a Wilmington native who was an All-American Athletic Conference performer as a sophomore in posting the second-lowest scoring average on ECU’s team, left West Virginia on Saturday after a final visit to the course. He said he was pleased with his putting on the pristine and fast greens for The Greenbrier, and the experience left him eager to try and qualify again for a PGA event.

He watched Sunday’s final round on television.

“It just made me want to get back there more, because if a few more things would have gone my way then I could have still been playing there on Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “The biggest thing was I was thinking I should be there and still be playing. Hopefully I can get back to that point.”

ECU coach Andrew Sapp, who was hired last July to lead the Pirates, backed up Taylor in saying that the golfer’s putting was strong during the event.

“When he told me he didn’t think he hit his irons well, it was a little shocking because his ball-striking has always been fantastic,” Sapp said. “He is a little bit of a streaky putter, but he told me he came away really encouraged because he didn’t hit the ball well with his irons but he barely missed the cut in a PGA Tour event.

“That is an encouraging thing and there are a lot of lessons to learn. He is really excited about the rest of his summer golf.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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