PINEHURST, N.C. — Puyallup’s Ryan Moore has played enough U.S. Opens to know the drill.
Shoot a 76 early in this tournament, chances are you are not contending for the major-championship title by the end of the week.
So Moore devised Plan ‘B’: Rally to make the cut, which he did Friday.
And now comes Plan ‘C’: Try for a career-best U.S. Open finish.
The Cascade Christian and UNLV product did not hurt his chances for that Saturday, firing a 1-over-par 71 in the third round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club No. 2 Course.
With one of the day’s best rounds on a much more difficult day for scoring, Moore crept up 14 spots on the leaderboard – to a tie for 30th – heading into the final round Sunday.
“I am trying to have as good a finish this week, just to have a good finish,” Moore said. “My best finish is 10th at a U.S. Open. I’d like to better that. I want to play better. I was able to better my position a lot the last two days, and I want to keep doing that.”
To jump into the top 10, Moore would likely need to close with another under-par round Sunday – something much closer to the 68 he shot Friday.
Ball-striking-wise, he knows the way he has been swinging the club the past two days – especially with the driver – he is capable of making a few more birdies.
After a three-putt bogey to start his round, Moore reeled off eight consecutive pars – then fought back to even-par for his round when he got up and down out of the greenside bunker at the par-5 10th hole to make birdie.
One of the worst breaks Moore has gotten all week came on the 14th hole. Pin high and just to the left of the green, his chip shot started fast but curled right back toward the cup.
Moore’s golf ball not only hit the flagstick, it went halfway down in the hole before it did something that astonished the golfer.
“I thought it was in,” Moore said. “I hit a lot of the hole and still it had a ton of momentum. And it was one of those weird ones where it gained speed coming out of the hole after it hit the pin”
It left him with a 7-foot comeback putt to save par, which he missed when his ball spun out of the left edge of the cup.
And after missing a short par putt on the next hole, falling to 2-over for the day, Moore appeared to be reeling.
But he rebounded with a wonderful up and down from the greenside bunker at No. 16, making a 6-footer. And he chipped close from off the green at No. 17 for another par.
At the finishing hole, Moore sailed his drive way left and into high grass in the waste area.
“(The lie) wasn’t bad. I definitely had some stuff around it, but the ball was sitting in a pretty clean spot,” Moore said. “I had a pretty good number (165 yards) … and tried hitting a cut. It came out perfect.”
His 8-iron approach shot settled in the middle of the 18th green. And he drained the 15-footer for birdie.
“Playing to win the tournament now is a far, far stretch,” Moore said. “To play another solid round today, and try and keep creeping up that leaderboard – I know if you shoot anything close to even-par over the weekend at a U.S. Open, you are going to move up a lot.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442