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Las Vegas golfer’s hard work rewarded in PGA Tour season opener

Many athletes take the offseason to get away from their sport, rest their bodies and clear their minds before the grind starts up again.

Taylor Montgomery took the opposite approach.

After a successful rookie season on the PGA Tour, the Las Vegas golfer spent the holidays working hard to be ready for his sophomore campaign.

“I didn’t really relax at all. I mean, had a couple wine nights, but that’s about it,” Montgomery said. “I worked really hard in December, and I was hoping they would work out, and so far they have, which is good.”

Montgomery’s season began at the Sony Open in Hawaii, where he was within a stroke of the lead after both the first and second rounds. He eventually settled for a tie for 13th. That gives him a solid foundation to build on as the tour heads to the West Coast swing and courses Montgomery is familiar with, starting this week at The American Express on three layouts in the California desert.

“Very happy with how I started,” Montgomery said. “I mean, obviously a new season, a month and a half without a tournament, you don’t really know what is going to come out, because you start working on things and just practicing, and to come out here, it was nice to have this kind of start.”

A nice start describes Montgomery’s rookie season.

He had eight top-15 finishes in his first nine events, including a third in Napa and a fifth at The American Express. Things weren’t so successful after that. He missed nine cuts the rest of the way and had no other top-15 finishes until a tie for eighth in the season finale in Georgia.

Still, his fast start allowed him to finish 54th in the FedEx Cup standings. That gained him entry into the first two $20 million signature events at Pebble Beach and Riviera in the coming weeks.

One of the best putters on tour, Montgomery knows it’s the other parts of the game that will help get him the results he’s looking for in 2024.

“The ball striking is definitely a lot better, and that’s the major thing I was working on in December,” Montgomery said.

He has no regrets about working so hard in the offseason, especially for something he is passionate about.

“Just something I’ve always done. I’ve always worked very hard in the game of golf and pretty much anything I do,” Montgomery said. “Just golf I’ve been able to do it for a long time, whereas if it’s something else I’ll do it for a month and get bored with it.”

Memories of a feud

Grayson Murray, who won at Waialae over the weekend, has no connection to Las Vegas. But he does have history with a Las Vegas golfer.

Just two years ago Murray got into one of golf’s bigger beefs with Kevin Na, first on social media and later face-to-face at a PGA Tour event.

It began when SiriusXM’s Chantel McCabe tweeted, “Kevin Na walking in putts never gets old.” Murray quoted the tweet, then wrote of the notoriously slow player, “Kevin Na taking 3 minutes to putt them does get old.”

That prompted a reply from Na – “u missing the cut is getting old!” – and the bad blood flowed.

Three months later at the Mexico Open in Puerto Vallarta the two got into a verbal exchange on the driving range that Murray said involved plenty of swearing. It ended, Murray told The Golf Channel, with him addressing rumors Na was headed to LIV Golf.

“I told him, if he goes and plays in the Saudi League, no one’s going to miss him on this tour,” Murray said.

Na did leave for LIV, where he has had little success. Murray, on the other hand, is now headed to The Masters and other big events as the newest PGA Tour winner.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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