Dave Reardon: Golf wasn't Taylor-made early on for Montgomery

Jan. 14—Taylor Montgomery was born and raised in Las Vegas, where he was originally more interested in basketball and football than golf. Getting to know some visitors at his dad's workplace changed that.

Taylor Montgomery was born and raised in Las Vegas, where he was originally more interested in basketball and football than golf. Getting to know some visitors at his dad's workplace changed that.

"... Tiger (Woods ), Michael Jordan, Jerome Bettis, " Montgomery said Friday. "All the athletes out there loved golf. I was never into golf. ... Once I start seeing those guys out there, it kind of drew me toward the game a lot more."

"Out there " is Shadow Creek, an exclusive golf course owned by MGM Resorts, where Montgomery's father, Monte, is the director of golf.

Taylor Montgomery, 27, is a PGA Tour rookie looking for his first win. His best finish is third at the Fortinet Championship in September. It was his first start as a Tour member.

Montgomery shot 4-under 66 at Waialae Country Club on Friday to hold the early clubhouse lead of 10 under par after his second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii. The day ended with him tied for second with J.J. Spaun. They are a stroke behind midway leader Chris Kirk, who shot 65 Friday.

In a 2020 interview, Montgomery said he was 10 when he met Jordan at Shadow Creek.

"He was out there all the time, " Montgomery said after Friday's round. "MJ is such a cool dude, especially when you get him around all the guys. He loves to hang out and talk."

So did the young Montgomery, even on the course.

"I used to caddie for the guy that (Jordan ) was playing against and I was always trash-talking to him. This was at the age I grew like a foot in a year. He is like, 'Hey, Bobby, who the hell is that kid ?' He's like, 'Oh, you dumbass, that's Monte's kid.' ... I was just yapping the whole time. My guy kept chipping in and making putts and hitting it close and he was beating MJ pretty bad."

But after "halftime, " it was a different story.

"Didn't work out though, " Montgomery said. "The back nine, MJ kind of did MJ stuff."

On Friday at Waialae, Montgomery was strong after the turn, too, with four birdies, including on the last two holes.

Combined with his first-round 64, it's a great start for a guy who hadn't even seen the course until Monday.

"It suits my game, " Montgomery said. "You got to drive it really well here and it's short. Normally I'm a pretty good wedge player. It's like the longer irons that I've been struggling with.

"But it's up and down. One day I could hit them really good and then the next is not so great, whereas I feel like my chipping and putting and driving has been very consistent."

Montgomery, who posted 13 birdies and three bogeys in the first two rounds here, is especially happy with his short game.

"Yeah, my bunker play, I like the sand out here, I guess, " he said. "It was really good. ... I had a few that the lies weren't that great and still managed to hit them close and get them up and down."

His overall play was solid enough to make the cut in all seven tournaments last fall, with six top-25 finishes and three in the top 10. Twenty of his 30 rounds of his rookie season have been in the 60s.

Montgomery played at UNLV (as did his father ), and turned pro in 2017. He joined the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, and his performance there earned him a PGA Tour card.

"Yeah, I definitely feel like I could win at any time, " Montgomery said. "I hope to do that soon."