Boling: This could be a major breakout tournament for Ryan Moore

Staff writerApril 9, 2014 

Cadillac Championship Golf

Ryan Moore tees off on the fifth hole during the final round of the Cadillac Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 9, 2014, in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

LYNNE SLADKY — AP

So where does Puyallup hold the parade when native son Ryan Moore wins the Masters?

It’s worth considering.

If golf’s first major tournament of the year is as wide open as everybody seems to think, it seems to give Moore his best chance to put together a big week and be walking around in a green sports coat late Sunday afternoon.

He certainly has to be teeing off Thursday with a feeling of competitive momentum.

On Wednesday, Moore torched the field with a 6-under-par 21 to win the annual Par-3 Contest by two strokes as a final tuneup before the tournament.

No winner of the Par-3 Contest has gone on to win the Masters that year. But I’m choosing to ignore that fact because it weakens the premise that the local product can win this thing.

With Tiger Woods having withdrawn because of back trouble and some of the younger stars battling inconsistencies, analysts are saying any of 30 have realistic chances.

Well, Moore tees off Thursday ranked 10th in FedExCup points. And he has twice been in the top 15 at Augusta, tying for 13th as low amateur in 2005 and tying for 14th in 2010.

Other top names might be short of their “A” games this week, a boost for Moore.

Phil Mickelson has been fighting back trouble, but he tied for 12th at Houston last week.

Rory McIlroy and defending champion Adam Scott come in with the shortest odds, at 10-1. But McIlroy spit the bit with a comfortable lead at the Honda Classic, and Scott also faltered late at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Even though Woods isn’t around, it shouldn’t really change that much, as he hasn’t won a major since 2008 or a Masters since 2005.

But it does matter.

A USA Today headline offered the optimistic: “Tiger Woods’ void felt at Masters, but next wave ready.” But there’s a lot of golfers in that wave, and fans aren’t necessarily interested in the crop of newcomers.

The story pointed out that the resale ticket market took a big hit when Woods withdrew, and TV ratings are expected to follow suit.

Mickelson said this week: “It’s a weird feeling not having him here, isn’t it? He’s been such a mainstay in professional golf and in the majors, it’s awkward to not have him here.”

But the golfing community should be getting used to it, as the past 19 majors have been won by first-time major winners 15 times.

Is parity and a diversity of winners good for golf? Probably not from the standpoint of fans who obviously like to see the top rivalries play out in the biggest tournaments.

Last year’s Masters playoff between Scott and Angel Cabrera was great theater, but it’s not the level of memorable drama as when Tiger and Phil are contending.

Yes, the Masters is always golf’s showcase event. There are the azaleas in bloom and the chirping birds in the stately pines. But there’s got to be more than scenery.

Maybe Moore can provide it.

He’s 31 and in terrific condition, having trimmed down and shaped up.

He has had a pair of top-10 major finishes, tying for ninth at the 2006 PGA Championship and 10th at the ’09 U.S. Open.

Wednesday, he had his 17-month-old son, Tucker, on the course with him. Having your toddler join you with a plastic club is guaranteed to keep you loose on the course. It will help if he maintains that temperament in Round 1.

The Masters so often turns on a lucky bounce or the rub of the green that goes one player’s way.

Wednesday, as Moore was tearing up the par-3 course, he misfired on the fifth hole, and his tee ball bounced off a marshal.

How did he respond? He chipped in from 30 feet out for another birdie.

Maybe it’s all a sign that Moore’s career is ripening to the point of major contention.

If this turns into a scramble down the stretch Sunday afternoon, this might be the perfect week for him to take that next step.

dave.boling@thenewstribune.com
@DaveBoling

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