Ryan Moore has high expectations
Ryan Moore wondered why there was such a fuss.
Sure, he became the first player since Tiger Woods to skip Q-school and go straight from college to the PGA Tour. But that was only a small part of what he wanted to achieve.
He wanted to do at least as much as Tiger.
And after Moore tied for 13th at Disney to secure his tour card, he even sounded like a young Tiger.
``For how I've been playing, for how I've felt the last few months on the golf course, yes, I'm very proud of myself,'' Moore said. ``This is, probably if not the best, one of the best accomplishments I've ever done. I definitely didn't have my A-game out there. I was just able to get it around the best I could.''
Without his A-game, all he did was shoot 18 under and finish five shots behind Lucas Glover.
It brought back memories of Woods, the youngest Masters champion at age 21, taking three weeks off and then winning the '97 Byron Nelson Classic. He didn't have his A-game that week in Dallas. No, he told reporters, it was more like a C-plus, a comment that didn't go over well with his peers.
Moore also rubs some people the wrong way, straddling the line between being confident and cocky.
But that's why he might be worth watching.
After talking about a swing that deserted him and a putter that saved him in a final round of 68, Moore was asked whether the last four months allowed him to appreciate what Woods did in 1996.
Woods won in his fifth start as a pro by beating Davis Love III in a playoff at Las Vegas. Three weeks later, he outlasted the late Payne Stewart in a final-round duel at Disney. Not only did he earn his card, Woods made enough to finish in the top 30 on the money list and qualify for the Tour Championship.
``I never thought it was going to be easy,'' Moore said. ``That would be very, very impressive. I just didn't make enough birdies the last two weeks to get myself high enough.''
High enough for what?
Turns out Moore wanted more than just his card. He wanted to get into the Tour Championship.
``Absolutely,'' he said, slightly indignant. ``I wasn't trying to get in the top 125. That was never my goal. I'm trying to win. I was trying to get myself in the Tour Championship. That's been my goal the whole year. If you shoot for that stuff, everything falls in place after it. I've never been one to 'settle,' and I never will.''
Which is not to suggest he settled for a job next year.
``No, not at all,'' he said. ``This was a battle to get to this point, and I'm very happy to be here.''
Moore comes to the PGA Tour with a sterling record as an amateur.
A year ago, he had an amateur season that rivaled what Vijay Singh did as a pro. His nine victories included the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links, Western Amateur and the individual NCAA title as a junior at UNLV. Once he turned pro, all it took was a tie for second in the Canadian Open to get him pointed in the right direction.
Where he goes from here, even with what Moore already has achieved, is anyone's guess. He isn't the first young American to come along with a strong record and big dreams.
Matt Kuchar won the next U.S. Amateur after Woods turned pro, dazzled at the Masters and U.S. Open, and eventually turned pro. But he has only one win, and at No. 157 on the money list this year, he's headed back to Q-school.
Charles Howell III won the NCAA title in record fashion and has never finished lower than 33rd on the money list. Still, he has only one victory.
Zach Johnson took the Nationwide Tour route, and won as a rookie last year.
Jonathan Byrd and Ben Crane, two other players in their 20s, have two victories each.
Glover took a while to get on tour, but the 25-year-old golfer broke through Sunday with birdies on his last two holes to win at Disney.
``There's so many great players over here, it's hard to succeed,'' Glover said. ``You've got to get in line. That's why you don't see many guys out of college. It's hard to get out there. There's a couple hundred guys just as good as you.''
All have had their moments, and perhaps it's unfair to judge them against the ridiculous standard set by Woods, who won the career Grand Slam at age 24 and already has 10 majors among his 46 victories.
He turns 30 in December.
Then again, maybe the best measure of young American stars is that Howell is the only U.S. teammate younger than Woods to have played on a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team since 1997.
Maybe Moore, 22, is next in line.
He is somewhat of a novelty, far from the cookie-cutter mold of young talent. He cares more about having control of his ball than bashing it, and he doesn't have a swing coach, a psychologist, a nutritionist or even a trainer.
And he sure doesn't need a media consultant. Moore speaks freely, not the least bit worried if it sounds brash.
Asked if Woods' mercurial start on the PGA Tour set the bar too high for generations to come, Moore thought for only a second and slowly shook his head.
``Not necessarily,'' he said. ``It's doable. You've just got to play good golf.''
It has worked so far for Moore, even without his A-game.
October 26, 2005
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