SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Nick Taylor knows TPC Scottsdale like the back of his hand and it showed on Friday.
The Canadian native, who lives not far from the course and practices here regularly, tied the course record with an 11-under 60 to take a five-stroke lead after the first round of the WM Phoenix Open.
“I’ve probably never putted that well,” said Taylor, who made 184 feet, 1 inch of putts using a claw grip in the first round, gaining 7.145 strokes on the greens. “Yeah, saw the lines great, and it was a continuation of last night.”
It marked the second straight round on the PGA Tour over a span of two tournaments and six days that a player shot 60 with preferred lies being in effect due to weather conditions. (Wyndham Clark shot 12-under 60 at Pebble Beach on Saturday during the third round.) Taylor’s five-shot lead is the largest 18-hole lead in WM tournament history and the largest at any Tour event since Jim Gallagher Jr. shot 63 at Olympic Club to lead by five after the opening round of the 1993 Tour Championship.
Nick Taylor gained more than 7 strokes putting in his opening round of 60.
It’s the most strokes gained putting in a single PGA Tour round in nearly 7 years. Anirban Lahiri is the last player to gain 7+ in a round, picking up 7.32 in R2 of the Memorial in 2017.
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) February 9, 2024
Taylor, who started on the front nine Thursday, played just six holes as a result of a 3-hour, 30 minute delay due to rain, which was followed by the suspension of play due to darkness. Despite unseasonably chilly conditions that sent the temperature dipping into the 40s, he was off to a hot start, making three birdies in his first six holes. On Friday morning, there was a 90-minute frost delay but when Taylor started at the par-3 16th, the cold didn’t bother the Canadian.
“I’ve played enough in it where I kind of know what to expect,” said Taylor, who was runner-up to Scottie Scheffler at the WM Phoenix Open.
Taylor planted his tee shot 9 feet from the hole and sank the putt. Then he started a string of four birdies in a row beginning at 18, including draining a 21-foot birdie putt at No. 2 and wedging to a foot at the par-5 third. He cooled off with four pars in a row, but the last of them, at No. 7, felt like a birdie. After catching a little too much ball with his bunker shot, his putter bailed him out and rescued par with a 21-foot putt.
Asked if he had 59 in his mind, he said, “After a missed…