AUGUSTA, GA. — Way past high noon Friday, Puyallup’s Ryan Moore stood numb in utter shock and disappointment near “The Big Oak Tree” that shades the entire Augusta National Golf Club.
After a poor start to the 78th Masters Tournament, Moore knew he needed to post an under-par round Friday to give himself any shot of making the tournament cut for a sixth consecutive time.
He didn’t. Two late bogeys spoiled a mid-round surge, and the Cascade Christian and UNLV product shot an even-par 72 to miss playing the Masters on the weekend for the first time in his career.
His two-round total was 5-over 149, which looked bleak from the outset. That is not to say the rest of his afternoon wasn’t at least interesting.
At the time Moore signed off on his 72, a couple things kept his tournament life in play. One was the wind, which really kicked up late in his round, swirling in all directions.
And two, leader Bubba Watson was well within earshot. Therefore, the 10-shot cut rule could have been Moore’s saving grace.
“There’s still a chance,” Moore said. “Obviously if (Watson) gets to 6-under or better, I am done.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed. I am definitely not taking a flight out tonight, that is for sure.”
An hour later, Watson went on a run of five consecutive birdies to shoot 68, which put him at 7-under 137.
The only chance Moore had remaining to make the cut was the old-fashioned way – finish in the top 50. And because of the windy conditions, afternoon scores were high. Golfers dropped down the leaderboard – just not far enough.
Moore got close, going from a tie for 65th to ultimately finishing tied for 52nd, missing the cut by one stroke.
“I had plenty of opportunities … to post 2- or 3-over pretty easily, but I made a couple of bogeys and missed a couple of really good chances for birdies on the back side,” Moore said.
Moore got rolling a bit, making birdies on three consecutive holes (Nos. 8-10), and on four of five holes when he hit his tee shot pin-high at the 12th hole, and sank a 12-foot putt to get to 2-under for the round.
He laid up on both reachable back-nine par-5 holes. At No. 13, he hit his wedge approach to 12 feet, then bent over in disbelief when his birdie bid slid by the hole.
“I hit honestly a really good putt, and I am still astonished that it did what it did. I would have hit it there 10 times in a row,” Moore said. “It broke, and I’ve had that putt a lot of times, and it never breaks as much as it looks like coming up that hill. I hit it perfect inside-right (of the hole) with great speed, and it broke all the way across the hole.”
At No. 15, he faced a tricky 10-footer for birdie down the hill. It grazed the right edge and missed.
If Moore is going to look back at a key hole this week, it will likely be the 16th hole – the site of his final-round hole-in-one at the 2010 Masters.
This time, that hole gave Moore fits. On Thursday, he hit too much club and his ball sailed into a right greenside bunker, leading to bogey.
On Friday, to a pin tucked in the back-left corner, Moore struck a crisp 7-iron from the tee. But the wind grabbed his golf ball and took it left of the pin. It ran down an embankment.
“(The wind) should have been left-to-right on that hole. I kind of hit in on the line I wanted it to, and the wind knocked it down to the left,” Moore said. “That’s what it does on this golf course. You think you know what it is doing, and hit a shot and it gets up in the air and does the opposite.”
Moore tried playing his second shot off a slope behind the hole, but it retreated too far. He missed the 6-footer to save par.
As penalizing as the wind was on No. 16, it doomed Moore on the finishing hole. His 8-iron approach landed in the worst place possible – the right greenside bunker. It left him with a 20-foot putt for par, which he missed.
Seeing a lot of the big names that missed the cut, Moore had an interesting assessment of how Masters officials set up the tournament for the first two rounds.
“They set the course up tough (Thursday) and today. These were Sunday pins, for the most part,” Moore said.
“It’s like they took a different approach this year, like they wanted it to play tough the first two rounds, and maybe ease it back on the weekend to let more birdies happen. They wanted it to be a little higher cut than normal.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442