Moore good things expected from first-timer
BY BILL KWON
Special to the Advertiser
KAPALUA, Maui — Ryan Moore isn't fazed at being one of the seven first-timers in the SBS Championship. After all, he has already played in two Masters and posted top-10s in the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.
"It's definitely a confidence booster, playing in those events and playing well, knowing you can play with these guys," says Moore, who's also doing quite well in the PGA Tour's season opener.
Moore shot his second-straight 68 for a 54-hole total of 205 to trail wire-to-wire leader Lucas Glover (202), defending champion Geoff Ogilvy (203) and Martin Laird (204). Moore might have a little more local knowledge of the Plantation Course than Laird, also a first-timer, having played in a Mercedes Championship pro-am on his first full year on tour in 2006.
Still, brisk and contrary Kona winds made scoring a little more difficult, baffling the 28 players in the field, including Glover, who had to birdie two of his final three holes to come in with a 71, leading to a more crowded leaderboard.
Right now, no one's more on a scoring tear than Moore, who has played his last three tournaments 44 under par. This week he's 14-under par with only one bogey and no three-putts in 54 holes going into today's final round.
Moore has shown he's capable of that kind of scoring before locally. He still remembers shooting 20-under-par to win the John A. Burns Intercollegiate tournament at Leilehua when he came here with Nevada-Las Vegas in 2005. "Maybe that was the best I putted all my life," said Moore, who shot a final-round 64 for 196.
He played in relative anonymity as most of the local golf fans were watching Michelle Wie finish tied for second in the SBS Open that same week. "I do remember that," Moore said. "We actually played over there at the Turtle Bay course early in the week and saw that they (the LPGA gals) were all out there."
Moore's putting hasn't been shabby either on the Plantation Course's huge greens. He thought his speed control on the greens was maybe the best in his whole life.
"I have had absolutely fantastic speed control this whole week," said Moore, admitting that maybe except for one putt, a 40-footer for eagle at the fifth hole that jump-started his round.
"It was downhill, down grain, down wind. I had to hit it like a five-footer and I hit it like a 20-footer.
"It had way too much speed but it was one of those putts that hit right in the middle of the cup, popped up right in the air and bounced right in the cup. You need some of those."
Moore has been on the fast track ever since he won 10 amateur events in 2004, including the U.S. Amateur and his second U.S. Men's Amateur Public Links championship, that led to invitations to the Masters. He turned pro in 2005 and earned $686,250 in eight events for the equivalent of 113th on the money list. That made him the first player since Tiger Woods in 1996 to go from college to the PGA Tour without having to go to Q-School.
What's scary is that he doesn't thinks his game is at his best yet. "I'm opening my eyes lately to what I'm capable of doing," Moore said.
Bill Kwon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org