by Garrett Johnston
Cascade Christian grad Ryan Moore of Puyallup, Wash. heads to Scotland next week for the oldest championship in golf, The Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links.
Moore’s best finish in the Open Championship is a tie for 12th in 2014 at Royal Liverpool when his second round 68 vaulted him into contention, trailing only Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy midway through that championship.
The latter would finish with the Claret Jug after fending off Sunday charges from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.
Just a month later at the PGA Championship, Moore nearly made the U.S. Ryder Cup team but struggled on final round Sunday, narrowly missing earning an automatic spot.
The 35-year-old would have to wait two more years to make his Ryder Cup debut, which he did nicely in a 2-1 performance in the winning effort for the American team at Hazeltine, securing the winning point for the team in his singles match.
Making his eighth start in the Open Championship, Moore returns to the place where his Open career began in 2007.
“I’ve enjoyed the Open Championship and all of the different venues that we’ve played on, I’ve played on most of them at this point,” Moore said. “This is maybe only the second time that I’m going to return to a place that I’ve played before (the other being the Old Course at St. Andrews in 2010 and 2015).”
Moore has played in seven of the last eight Opens, with the exception being 2012.
“I enjoyed the golf course the last time I played there, though I didn’t do anything special then, I’ve been looking forward to getting back there,” Moore said of Carnoustie. “I’m glad I was able to get in and we’ll give it another go this year.”
Moore was the first alternate for this event as of a couple weeks ago.
While at home practicing during the week of the Quicken Loans National at the end of June, Moore got a call from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (the governing body that runs The Open) saying that 1999 Open champ Paul Lawrie had pulled out with a foot injury, so Moore was in.
“When you’re first alternate with that much time to go (about two weeks), you’re totally going to get in, it’s just a matter of how the qualifying spots were going,” Moore said.
The last couple weeks at both European Tour and PGA Tour stops, four spots each event are being awarded to the top four finishers not already qualified for The Open.
“It was nice to be alerted with time to spare so I could prepare and get my arrangements together and get stuff going.”
That includes deciding to bring his kids over for their first Open Championship. Though there won’t be a lot of extra time because they won’t arrive until this Monday after the John Deere, it will still figure to be a fun experience for the Moore family.
“We might venture out a few times (to different towns) but it depends on my tee times there because they can be all over the place,” Moore said. “So you might have some time in the afternoons if you get a 7:10 am or 6:40 am tee time which is always possible.”
As Moore prepares for another Open, three-time Open winner and CBS Sports golf analyst Nick Faldo believes that he possesses a good match of skill-sets for this event.
“He’s a consistent striker of the ball and you need that in the Open Championship, because you must give yourself opportunities to score,” Faldo said of Moore.
As far as a game plan, Moore looks to adapt quickly to the course conditions when he arrives on Monday off that charter jet from the John Deere Classic.
“It’s so much about the conditions over there, whether the course is going to have thick rough and play slow or if the grass will be thin and firm and fast,” Moore said. “Those golf courses play so different depending on the conditions, so it’s hard to say.”
Moore will be in Silvis, Ill. for the John Deere this week, an event he won in 2016.
“Playing the Deere the week before is not exactly how you prepare for links golf, but it’s about getting there Monday, getting used to the conditions, seeing the firmness of the greens and how fast the fairways are and seeing how much the ball is bouncing and rolling.”
A key component for Moore’s adapting to links golf is finding the right club to chip with.
As simple as that sounds, with links golf you need a club that will allow you to bump and run the ball (versus hitting the perfect flop shot).
“It’s too hard to navigate those slopes off the greens with a lob wedge because they’re too firm and too tight, you’ll mis-hit it way too often, so just by committing to a club, maybe a putter, 3-wood, 5-wood or hybrid next week and just getting comfortable with that when you’re 15 yards off the green in a swale will be key,” Moore said.
“It’s about picking it, committing to it, and practicing every day with it just to get as comfortable as I can.”
Making his 41st career major start, Moore understands that winning would be an amazing accomplishment if he crossed that finish line on Sunday, but he’s not the personality to get too far ahead of himself.
“There’s a long way to go,” Moore said. “Obviously that’s where I want to be and that’s what I’m going there to do but there are a lot of variables and things to happen between here and there.
“It would mean a lot, I’d love to have the chance to be in contention and have a shot coming down the stretch on a Sunday.”
Garrett Johnston is a sports writer and video producer. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnstonGarrett.