Two years ago, I wrote a column about American golfer Ryan Moore in The Ram. While he was 31 years old at the time — not particularly young, even by golf standards — I predicted he could develop into one of the PGA Tour’s next generation of stars.
Well, I feel like I should send him a gift basket or something, because he’s done nothing but prove me right since then. Not the flashiest player on the circuit, Moore was having a solid 2015-16 season before catching fire over the summer. In August, he picked up his fifth career PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic after shooting three consecutive 65s to open the week, beating runner-up Ben Martin by two strokes.
While that win was Moore’s only victory of the year, his performance in the FedEx Cup playoffs was arguably even more impressive. The Washington native notched a pair of top 10s in the first two events, forcing his way into the Tour Championship in Atlanta. There, he shot rounds of 66 and 64 on the weekend to earn a spot in a sudden death playoff against four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and perennial “Best Player Without a PGA Tour Win” candidate Kevin Chappell.
Chappell was quickly eliminated, but Moore and McIlroy proceeded to duke it out over the next three holes. Both showed plenty of poise under pressure, with Moore, who has less primetime experience, making a couple of clutch putts to keep himself in it.
While McIlroy ultimately won on the fourth hole, Moore’s impressive performance was enough to capture the attention of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III. With one open spot remaining on the roster, Love called Moore shortly after the playoff concluded, inviting him to participate in the biennial matches for the first time in his career. Moore, of course, accepted.
Exactly one week later, Moore became the envy of every American pro when he sunk the winning putt at Hazeltine National Golf Club. It was the USA’s first Ryder Cup victory in nearly a decade, and his decisive roll will stand as one of the defining images of the turnaround for years to come.
Moore has another opportunity on his plate this week, this time in the form of the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. He won the event in back-to-back years in 2013 and 2014 and tied for 10th last year, so he would appear to have a better chance of hoisting the trophy than anyone else. However, with many other notables in the field, including fellow Ryder Cup stud Patrick Reed and former world No. 1 Adam Scott, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
It’s tough to come out on top at the same event in three out of four years. But by having a career season and delivering on his always considerable promise, Ryan Moore is already a winner.