AUGUSTA, GA. — As the newly-minted Par-3 Contest champion, Puyallup’s Ryan Moore began hearing about the can't-win-the-Masters-Tournament “curse” as soon as he tapped in his final putt Wednesday.
“I don’t believe in that stuff,” he said.
But he certainly believes in bad mojo.
From 5-under-par on the small course to a shocking 5-over 77 on the big course a day later, Moore’s first round at the 78th Masters on Thursday certainly will turn some heads.
It was easily his highest score to open a Masters at Augusta National Golf Club for his career. His previous worst was a 73 back in 2003 when he made his first appearance as a college amateur from UNLV.
To stay perfect in cuts made at the Masters, he will have to go in serious grind mode Friday. He sits tied for 76th.
As bad as the results were, Moore – ranked 33rd in the world – remained upbeat about how he is playing.
“I played pretty darn good all day,” Moore said. “Obviously (I was) frustrated to finish the way I did. I definitely got a little bad momentum and got going the wrong way. And I couldn’t snap out of it.”
Moore started slow – he bogeyed the third and fourth holes to go to 2-over. He surged near the turn, making birdies at Nos. 7 and 8. And after he sank a 40-foot putt from the right fringe at the 11th hole for birdie to get back to even-par, he was sitting in a pretty good position heading into a two reachable par-5 holes.
That would be the final birdie of his round.
His second shot at the par-5 13th hole released to the back fringe, some 70 feet away from the hole. But he misjudged his putt down the slope, and it stopped halfway down, leading to a par.
And at No. 15, he laid up in a good spot on the final par 5, some 70 yards away from a front pin.
But he hit his wedge shot fat, and right into the pond in front of the green.
“That was just a horrible golf shot,” Moore said.
He dropped a second ball and hit it 12 feet above the hole, and saved bogey.
At the 16th hole, his 6-iron tee shot tracked right at the back-right pin location. As soon as it landed, it skipped into a greenside bunker right of the target.
“Thought I hit the perfect shot, and it ended up in the bunker,” Moore said. “It was impossible … to get that up and down for par.”
He bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes to complete a run of five consecutive bogeys.
“(The course set-up) was a lot harder than a normal Thursday, for sure,” Moore said. “Pins were a lot more difficult. The greens had dried out enough. It seemed like they were definitely trying to make sure no one went too low today thinking it would be softer and more scoreable. But it definitely wasn’t soft and scoreable, at least in the afternoon.
“It was tough. I was happy with where I was at through 13 or 14 holes. Like I said, I got it going the wrong way, and unfortunately I had a bad finish.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442