AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - It's one of the best success stories in golf this year. After losing his PGA tour card in 2013, Augusta native Vaughn Taylor went toe-to-toe with Phil Mickelson at Pebble Beach in February. Taylor eventually won, jumping from 447th in the world to playing for the Green Jacket this week.
Vaughn Taylor's humble beginnings start here at Hephzibah High School in south Richmond County. If you've never heard of golfers from that school, you're probably not the only one.
"We're not really known for golf," says George Pedano, the Hephzibah High School golf coach. "I don't know if there's any other schools in Richmond County known for golf."
Taylor's talent took time to appear. Coming out of a junior prep program in high school, he definitely didn't burst on the scene at then Augusta State.
"He was not considered the best golfer coming out of high school," confirms Augusta University Athletic Director Clint Bryant. "He was considered a late bloomer."
It was at the Augusta practice facility where Vaughn Taylor honed his game in the mid-90s. Bryant recalls Taylor's meteoric rise that brought him to the top of the collegiate ranks. By his senior year, he was an All-American.
"He's a super hard worker, but he just played the game," says Bryant. "Very unassuming, just a low-key guy. Just a regular person, well-liked by his teammates, well-liked by other student-athletes."
Taylor's style of play favors the short game over long, flashy drives. His technique brought him success in the mid-2000s on the PGA tour. He won two events; and most notably, had a top 10 finish at the Masters in 2007. But after that -- a drought.
In early 2016, he didn't even have a tour card. But then, Taylor had a miraculous victory at Pebble Beach, allowing him to play here at home once again.
"You know I thought I'd be in every year," Taylor reflects. "But that was just being young and dumb. This time around, it's much more special. I'm really going to take it in and enjoy the experience."
Bryan says he's couldn't be happier for Taylor. "A guy who hasn't participated in the Masters for 10 years gets to come home, play in front of the home crowd and who knows?? If he's putting it well, because I don't know if there is a better putter in golf than Vaughn Taylor! When he's putting it well, he's good!"
Vaughn Taylor is hoping to get his game back on track on Thursday. He's missed the cut in every tournament since winning at Pebble Beach.