Who knows if Puyallup’s Ryan Moore will ever emerge out of the blooming azaleas and win a Masters Tournament title.
But if he is ever in contention late Sunday, and needs a dramatic shot at the 16th hole at Augusta National Golf Club – he likes his chances.
Moore is one of 24 golfers to ever record a hole-in-one at the Masters. It came in the final round in 2010 — at No. 16.
In the second round Friday, his 7-iron tee shot there to a back-center pin location rolled a centimeter from the right edge of the cup, stopping just behind the hole. It led to a tap-in birdie — part of a Masters career-low 6-under-par 66.
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Moore’s ball-striking was not as sharp in the third round Saturday. He scored a 1-over 73 and is at 3-under 213 for the tournament, tied for 18th.
But that 16th hole nearly became the site of another career highlight.
The only other birdie in Moore’s round came at the other back-nine par 3 — the 12th hole. As soon as he hit that 9-iron, he started walking toward the hole with his golf ball still in the air. It stopped 6 feet behind the hole.
“It was a pretty straight shot — and one of those holes I had a perfect number (146 yards) and a perfect club,” Moore said.
And as soon as Moore struck his 8-iron tee shot to the front-right hole location at No. 16, he did the same thing — walked after his golf ball.
It landed just a few feet short and started tracking right at the hole.
As it began losing speed, the ball caught the right edge – and had every excuse to drop in.
Instead, it horseshoed out, and planted a few inches behind the hole.
“I thought it was perfect,” Moore said. “You can’t get any closer to going in — and not going in — two days in a row. Maybe tomorrow, I will sneak one in there.”
The thing about the pin location Saturday — it was not set up to net a whole lot of birdies.
If the tee shot veered slightly left, it would most certainly ended up in the lower plateau of the green. If the tee shot went off line right, it would likely go off the green.
“There wasn’t much of a landing area, just a few yards to work with,” Moore said. “It was a little deeper into the green than it has been in some years when it is a little closer to the bunker. But it was definitely a tight spot to squeeze it into, and my shot came off perfectly.”
He now has five birdies and an ace in 25 rounds at the 16th hole.
“I hit good shots there for some reason,” he said. “I am not sure why. It is just some holes you do.”
Moore’s par-3 scoring for the week has been pretty good — 2-under. His scoring on Augusta’s accessible par-5s, though, has not been good enough — 3-under.
“The reality is, that is what you have to score on, and I didn’t birdie any of (the par 5s) today,” Moore said. “In the end, that is why I shot over-par — just bad par-5 play, really.
“I am still in the top 20, and I’m not that many shots out of the top 10. I just shot 6-under a (Friday), so I know I have a round like that in me.”