Moore gets less to get more
By BILL HUFFMAN
Even though it took five frustrating seasons that included 112 starts on the PGA Tour, give Ryan Moore credit in that when he finally won, he did it his way.
Moore, who became the third Tour player from Scottsdale to win this year for the very first time in his professional career, following Pat Perez (Bob Hope Chrysler Classic) and Paul Casey (Shell Houston Open), looked like an “everyday muni hack’’ as he accepted the trophy for winning the Wyndham Championship on Sunday in Greensboro, N.C.
This was no fashion statement as Moore donned a faded navy-blue golf shirt, rumpled-up (a.ka. un-ironed) khaki jeans and a logo-less cap that Moore calls his “something hat’’ and others call a “painter’s hat’’ or a “Castro cap.’’ Adding to Moore’s one-of-a-kind Tour attire were golf shoes that looked more suited for a skateboarder — or possibly Ellen DeGeneres!
But, seriously, even Moore’s kelly green-and-blue golf bag that he bought off the Internet was void of any corporate sponsorship. (“It’s kind of Seahawks colors, and I’m from the Seattle area.’’)
It’s true, not everyone can look as casually cool and coordinated to the "tee” like Tiger and his vast Nike wardrobe. Or be the next Doug Sanders, although Ian Poulter tries. Still, you want to leave little doubt you’re doing a better job than John Daly, right? But apparently the low-key Moore could care less.
Actually, Moore has one minor deal, a ball and glove contract from Callaway. But for the most part, he has remained committed to a goal he set for himself this year at the FBR Open – no sponsorship deals until his game was where he wanted it to be.
“Truthfully, I have no idea where this might lead me, but I’m very happy and very comfortable with it,’’ he told us back in February when Moore’s golf game became part of the lack-of-a-logo story and he ended up tied for sixth.
So after taking down Jason Bohn and yet another Scottsdale pro looking for his first win, Kevin Stadler, in a three-hole playoff Sunday, Moore “finally is beginning’’ to like what he sees. Even if it does mean he’ll probably be inundated with potential sponsors.
“This has felt like an uphill battle the whole time I’ve been on the PGA Tour,’’ said the 26-year-old, who came out of UNLV in 2004 as one of the most decorated amateurs since Tiger Woods but couldn’t quite get across the finish line, absorbing a runner-up finish in each of his last four seasons while struggling through a near-career-ending injury to his left wrist.
“But lately, I’ve seen some consistency in my golf game and that’s really what I’ve been looking for. I guess that’s what I’m most happy with right now, my consistency.’’
A funny statement because after seven holes of Sunday’s shootout with Bohn, Stadler and Sergio Garcia (who blew a two-shot lead down the stretch), Moore was anything but consistent. In fact, when Moore bogeyed the seventh hole, he looked to be an afterthought, six shots behind the Spaniard.
But something happened on his way to the eighth tee. Moore had “a reality check.’’
“I just wasn’t feeling that great, so I gave myself a little pep talk,’’ said Moore, who was born in Tacoma but has lived at Estancia Golf Club in Scottsdale for almost a year now.
“I said, ‘Let’s hit every shot the rest of the day like you’re going to win this golf tournament.’ . . . You know, over time, I haven’t won. I haven’t been in this position much. A lot of it is just confidence. And so I kind of talked myself into it a little bit there. I just said, ‘All right. Let’s do this.’ . . . and it got me going.’’
Who would have ever guessed that Moore, the four-time Rebel All-American who in 2004 captured the U.S. Amateur at Winged Foot along with the U.S. Public Links (repeat champ), NCAA Championship and Western Amateur, would be shrouded in self-doubt? Hey, crazy stuff happens, especially in golf.
Like Sunday, when suddenly Moore reeled off five straight birdies beginning at the 12th hole and then watched in almost disbelief as Bohn and Stadler both bogeyed the final hole to force the playoff and give him life. A surprising twist that wasn’t lost on Moore, who a year earlier got upended by Adam Scott in a three-hole playoff at the Byron Nelson Classic. No doubt Moore still sees Scott’s rather shocking, 50-foot birdie snaking its way to the hole.
“There’s no such thing as a bad bounce or a good bounce. It all just kind of works out,’’ Moore said of the up-and-down nature of the game. “I was just trying to control what I could control and that’s me.
“It’s as simple as that. I was just trying to hit good golf shots.’’
Which is exactly what happened, as Moore shook off Bohn and then Stadler to achieve — almost out of the blue! — that goal he had set for himself way back at the FBR Open.
“I’m certainly not against sponsors,’’ Moore said when asked what he plans to wear and play in the near future now that he’s a winner on Tour.
“That’s not the idea behind this (giving up commercial endorsements). For me, it was getting the last three years behind me; just a lot of frustration. I haven’t played great golf necessarily, and yet I’ve been close (to winning). I haven’t been the player that I know that I am capable of being.
“So I looked at this year like a fresh start, a chance to get back to the basics, and just go and play golf and not worry about any of that other stuff on the side. . . . I wanted to be sure I was playing the clubs I wanted to play because I wanted to play them, not because I had to play them.’’
Those clubs Moore referred to were from Phoenix-based PING, the company he left this year after each side could not reach a contract. Simply put: Moore wanted more money; PING thought his career had yet to take off to the level of money Moore was seeking. The stalemate gave Moore the impetus to do it alone, he admitted.
“Certainly nothing against the equipment company that I was with before,’’ he said. “They make great products and I’m still using the exact same irons. But a couple of equipment changes have been huge this year. It was a great decision (to give up sponsors), and we’ll see where it goes from here.’’
Moore never mentioned what those huge changes were, and, of course, didn’t mention the clubs by name, either. But, hey, he doesn’t get paid to endorse golf clubs – yet!
Hopefully for Moore his big Wyndham win will be more of the same. Since the U.S. Open, where he finished in a tie for 10th at brutal Beth Page Black, Moore has three other top-10s and has accumulated the majority of his $1.9 million in earnings this season.
Not bad for a guy who had previously missed eight cuts and was so far down the pecking order that he wasn’t eligible for the season’s last two majors – the British Open and PGA Championship. It’s been a rapid rise, as just this week he jumped from No. 121 to No. 73 in the world.
Come to think of it, there might be some credence to the argument that Moore’s recent upward mobility might have more to do with his physical health than his mental health, although both seemed to be intertwined last weekend.
“My hand was hurting my very first professional tournament,’’ said Moore, who ironically had made the Wyndham Championship – called the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro in 2005 – his first tournament on the Tour.
“I can’t really say that I’ve been myself the whole time I’ve been out here. I’ve just been fighting those things. Really, it’s been a battle to get myself feeling like myself again.’’
But Ryan Moore is back, and there’s a very good chance – I’d say at least 100 percent — that so will the corporate logos and sponsorship deals come 2010.