Introverted Moore a breath of fresh air for U.S. squad?

By Rex HoggardSeptember 27, 2016, 9:52 pm

CHASKA, Minn. – When Ryan Moore bolted East Lake on Sunday his travel plans were best described as open ended.

“Well, I was going to play Napa,” Moore said of his next planned PGA Tour start in California in two weeks, “but we’ll see.”

Like everyone else, Moore was waiting to find out if he’d gotten the nod from Davis Love III to play this week’s Ryder Cup.

The call came at about 7:30 p.m. (ET) as he loaded his courtesy card.

“Hey, you want to go to Minnesota next week?” Love asked.

Perhaps Phil Mickelson was correct when he suggested a few weeks back that the team, and pairings, were all but set for the U.S. team; but Moore’s play at East Lake – where he dueled Europe’s top player, Rory McIlroy, to a draw for 21 holes – and selection has made the U.S. side alter that script.

“We obviously had a group of guys that we were plugging in and out of the lineups, and that's what Phil was saying when we were finally going to get to go play golf today,” Love said.

Moore is quiet, quirky even, and doesn’t spend much time on Tour mixing with the frat brothers; which isn’t a bad thing but it does create a challenge when it’s time to start partnering up at golf’s most intense team event.

On Tuesday at Hazeltine, Moore played with Brandt Snedeker, Brooks Koepka and J.B. Holmes, although Wednesday’s practice session will likely give a clearer picture of what Love & Co. are thinking regarding pairings.

What did emerge on a cold and windy day outside Minneapolis was something of a myth buster.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Throughout Tuesday’s abbreviated practice round Moore mixed and mingled with ease, trading a laugh with Koepka as the group teed off on the fourth hole, talking strategy with Snedeker at the sixth and generally easing his way into the Ryder Cup experience.

“I met him in the hall last night at 4 [p.m.], and we're just guiding him to where he's supposed to be and what he's supposed to be doing next, breaking him in,” Love said. “Obviously last night in the team room, Ryan Moore and Steve Stricker weren't saying a whole lot. It was mostly Phil. That’s the way it should be, and they will both have their time to speak up.”

But then letting Moore find his place in the U.S. team room may not be as much of a challenge as finding a partner for him.

Love referred to Moore as “Sleepy,” another Tour type went so far as to call the 33-year-old, “boring,” but his match play resume is best described as moxie.

His amateur record in match play events is a testament to whatever gene makes a good head-to-head competitor. In 2004, he won the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Public Links, NCAA Championship and Western Amateur; the single-season Grand Slam of amateur golf.

But that singular focus is born from a fierce independence and an indifference to everything and everyone around him while he’s on the clock. While those traits have served Moore well in a career that includes five Tour titles it’s not exactly a recipe for inclusion in the game’s most exclusive locker room.

“I'm not really sure how to put it. I'm anti-social, maybe,” Moore said. “I don't play golf to be best buddies and hang out and all that kind of stuff. Now, I do enjoy playing golf with people and I'm not a jerk or anything, I don't think. Well, maybe I am, I don't know.”

If all this paints a picture of a self-absorbed loner it should be noted that making a U.S. team, any U.S. team, has been a priority for Moore for years. But each year the selections came and went and he found himself watching the action from his couch.

“I've wanted to be a part of one of these events, was beginning to think it might not happen,” he said.

With so many missed opportunities Moore would be forgiven if he viewed this current cup cycle with a dollop of cynicism. He wasn’t invited to the team bonding dinner at Jack Nicklaus’ home during the Honda Classic, wasn’t on Love’s short list of potential picks until winning the John Deere Classic in August and wasn’t even fitted for a team uniform, which in a twisted way was fine with Moore.

“I’ve been fitted for every team event, I think, for about the last 10 years,” he laughed. “Every single one until this year, I had done the fitting. So I did not do the fitting this year. So apparently I'm not going to do it from now on, ever.”

In recent weeks as the pressure built, Moore seemed uninterested in the selection process and declined Love’s invitation last week to play a practice round at Hazeltine before heading to the Tour Championship. He said he needed rest, not face time with the captain and his potential teammates.

Moore was excited when he got the call from Love on Sunday night, although he did miss the captain’s first attempt to call him, and even though he hasn’t played with a partner since the 2004 Palmer Cup he largely dismissed any concerns as only he can.

“It's different than what we do. But I don't think it will be a crazy adjustment,” he shrugged. “It's different having someone be dependent on you a little bit, especially if you're playing alternate shot, wanting to get up and hit good shots. But the most important thing is that it's a golf shot.”

Moore will be a rookie this week at Hazeltine, a curiosity for a number of reasons, a teammate for the first time in more than a decade and, if Tuesday’s press conference was any indication, a breath of fresh air for Team USA.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray

On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.




Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”