RENO, Nev. (AP) – Vaughn Taylor successfully defended his title in the Reno-Tahoe Open on Sunday, shooting an even-par 72 to beat Jonathan Kaye by three strokes with a tournament-record 21-under total.

Taylor, in his second year on the PGA Tour, joined Vijay Singh as the only players to successfully defend a title this year and also became the fifth wire-to-wire winner of the season. Taylor opened with rounds of 64, 67 and 64 en route to a 267 total, four better than the previous tournament record set by Kirk Triplett in 2003. The winner also broke the tournament’s 36- and 54-hole marks.

Kaye shot a 67 Sunday – his fourth round in the 60s – but missed three birdie putts from within 15 feet on the last three holes to finish at 18 under on the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf and Country Club on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

Todd Fischer, who lives next to the course, had a 70 to finish third at 17 under. J.J. Henry (66), J.P. Hayes (69) and Aaron Baddeley (70) followed at 15 under. Jesper Parnevik started the day seven strokes back, but shot a 74 to finish at 12 under.

Taylor, who grew up in Augusta, Ga., and attended Augusta State University, averaged 300 yards a drive this week and was sharp with his irons the first three rounds. He made eight birdie putts Saturday – all from inside 10 feet – to open up a six-stroke lead over Fischer at 21 under.

On Sunday, Taylor’s biggest putts were par saves, including a 5-footer on the opening hole where he drove into a fairway bunker. He made a 4-footer to save bogey after it took him two shots to get out of a greenside bunker on the 439-yard, par-4 sixth.

That dropped him back to 20 under, three strokes ahead of Baddeley, who birdied four of the first six holes to get to 17 under, but bogeyed three holes on the back nine.

Taylor got back to 21 under when he drove 336 yards then hit a 280 approach to the left edge of the 616-yard, par-5 ninth and two putted from 50-feet for his only birdie in the final round after carding 24 over the first three days.

Kaye chipped in from 45 feet for his third birdie of the day on the par-3 seventh, but took a bogey on No. 9 when he drove left into the sage brush and missed a 21-footer to save par. He birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 14 – all from 8 feet or shorter – to get to 18-under, but missed a 12-footer on the par-3 16th. He hit his second shot 300 yards to the back fringe of the 636-yard, par-5 17th and putted within 3 feet but rolled his birdie putt 3 feet past and came away with another par.

Taylor’s victories at Reno are his only two on tour. He also won the Knoxville Open on the Nationwide Tour in 2003 and was a four-time winner on the Hooters Tour

Taylor arrived at Reno this year ranked 86th on the money list with $664,228. The $540,000 winner’s check pushes him past the $1 million mark for the second consecutive year. He finished 67th on the money list with $1.1 million last year – one of four rookies to surpass $1 million – and used part of his winnings to help build his parents a new home outside Augusta.

AP-ES-08-21-05 1949EDT

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