East Carolina University men’s golfer Blake Taylor has stayed busy this offseason, as the junior qualified and participated in his first PGA tour event at the Greenbrier Classic at the Old White TPC course in Glade Springs, West Virginia.
Taylor finished the qualifier with a five under score of 66, tying for second place with Wes Homan, Logan Lagodich and Mark Silvers. Along with Homan and Lagodich, Taylor defeated Silvers in a playoff to secure the final three qualifying spots for the tournament. Although Taylor went on to miss the cut in the Greenbrier Classic, his ECU head coach Andrew Sapp knows the experience Taylor gained will help him in his third season with the Pirates.
“His confidence level had to have gone up because he played really solid,” Sapp said. “He drove and putted the ball well, and even though he didn’t make the cut, the experience he gained from playing on that level will definitely help him moving forward in our program and beyond.”
Taylor enjoyed a good sophomore season with the Pirates. Taylor was named to the American Athletic Conference all-conference team and finished the season second in scoring for the Pirates with a 72.8 scoring average. He also notched two top 10 finishes this season including a season best fifth place finish at the Stitch Intercollegiate in April.
Taylor wasn’t the only Pirate who has found success on the PGA tour this season, as former Pirate-turned-professional Harold Varner III, who graduated from ECU in 2012, finished tied for fifth at the Greenbrier Classic, and followed with another great showing this weekend at the John Deere Classic with a sixth-place finish. The back-to-back top 10 finishes have brought a lot of attention to Varner and have cemented him as a hot new face on the tour.
The success of Taylor and Varner has positive effects on their careers, but it also brings something to the program at ECU, according to Sapp. Sapp said he sees the success of his players on the next level as a confidence booster and recruiting tool for the Pirates.
“This really helps Blake’s teammates who are seeing a guy they play and practice with (on a) daily basis succeed on the PGA level, and it helps give them the confidence to strive for that kind of success too,” Sapp said. “Blake’s play coupled with the play Harold has been doing is huge for the program, because when we are out here recruiting players, we can show them that our program is giving the golfing experience that helps guys make it to the next level.”
Expectations will be high as Taylor returns to the Pirates for his junior season and looks to build on his past success with the team. As the Pirates prepare for their fall season, the play and success of Taylor and Varner should offer the team inspiration and confidence as they look to build on the success of last season.