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Stanley's Coach Revels in Pupil's Victory
Mike Taylor, the assistant PGA professional at Sea Island Golf Club's Learning Center in St. Simons Island, Ga., was home watching his television last Sunday and getting more and more excited. He was observing one of his pupils, Kyle Stanley, rally to win his first PGA Tour title in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Stanley, who has worked with the 48-year-old Taylor since 2007, made a stunning one-week recovery after a final-hole collapse and playoff defeat in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Despite that devastating loss, at TPC Scottsdale the 24-year-old Stanley appeared a cool, reborn player.
"I was watching the round by myself, and then started seeing him slowly take control over the final nine holes," said Taylor. "My wife, Loslyn, had had enough of me the week before watching what happened. I didn't want to put her through that again.
"As Kyle tied for the lead at 15, I walked into a room and looked at my wife and said, 'You're not going to believe this.' We watched the final three holes together. I was holding my breath."
The relationship between a coach and player doesn't change from one sport to the other, according to Taylor. When a player is struggling, the coach also feels the pain. After Stanley's emotional defeat, Taylor flew out to meet with Stanley.
"I had flown to Phoenix last Monday to meet with Kyle; we worked alone on the range on Tuesday," said Taylor, whose Tour pupils also include past U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and rookie Harris English. "I don't have any children, but the players are like sons, like brothers, like friends to me."
When he met Stanley in Phoenix, Taylor said he immediately focused on the positives. "I told him that he was doing all the right things, his swing was good, and to keep his head up, his chest out," noted Taylor. "I was impressed how he met the media and faced up to the disappointment. There wasn't anything wrong mechanically. He just needed to keep his focus."
Stanley certainly responded well to the encouragement, closing with a bogey-free 65 that included a par-saving putt at 16 and a memorable pitch from underneath cactus at 17.
"Golf has meant everything to Kyle," said Taylor. "I learned a lot about the type player he was from the work ethic he demonstrated when he was a student at Clemson. The story I recall took place when he was a sophomore.
"I learned a lot about the type player he was from the work ethic he demonstrated when he was a student at Clemson. The story I recall took place when he was a sophomore. There was a night football game, and while his friends were out enjoying themselves before the game, Kyle was hitting balls under the lights on the range. When somebody turned off the lights after a tailgater was over, Kyle went back and turned them on."
Taylor said he "knew Kyle would bounce back, that the disappointment would not linger." However, the rapid turnaround in fate, Taylor said, "was something you could never expect to see again.
"I think that what you saw this past week exemplifies how strong mentally these kids are today," said Taylor. "Kyle has his goals and he works as hard as anybody to keep his focus on those goals."
Not wanting to interrupt Stanley's celebration, Taylor did not call him last Sunday night. "I knew that he had his family and friends and all the media to keep his busy," said Taylor.
But a text message awaited Taylor on his cell phone, and delivered in capital letters. "HERE WE COME, AUGUSTA! SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU AND YOUR HELP."
The above report is courtesy of the PGA of America. For more information, visit www.pga.com.