With his cap’s brim worn high over his forehead, Puyallup’s Ryan Moore let out a huge sigh as he slowly walked in to sign his final-round scorecard at the 79th Masters Tournament.
So worn out, it was difficult to see how pleased Moore was with a 3-under-par 69 to close out the tournament.
Again, his drives off the tee soared true and long for a third consecutive day. And on Sunday, he did something he had not done all week — make birdies on the accessible par-5 holes.
When it was over, he was more relieved than anything — not only recording his best Masters finish (tied for 12th) and tournament score (6-under 282), but his finish in the top 12 makes him exempt for the 2016 Masters.
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“Obviously the goal is always to go play as good as I possibly can,” Moore said. “But (earning next year’s Masters invitation) is definitely on my mind.
“It is nice to know today that you are playing next year.”
And that was the final reward on what was an excellent week at his favorite major tournament.
“Overall it was a good tournament,” Moore said. “And if I could have figured out those two rounds (opening 74, third-round 73) and played a little bit better, it would have been a great tournament.”
If the Cascade Christian and UNLV product ever gets in serious contention at the Masters, he has a string of great Sunday showings to fall back on.
• As an amateur in 2005, he closed with a 70 to tie for 13th.
• He shot a 68 — his first round in the 60s at the Masters — during the final round in 2010.
• And two years ago, he followed up a third-round 81 with a finishing 68.
And now, this 69 marks an under-par score in four of his past five final rounds.
“Apparently I like it here on Sunday,” Moore said. “I don’t know why.”
His round really got going at the seventh hole, where he hit his approach shot right next to the pin. He sank the 6-foot putt.
A hole later, he reached the green in two shots, and two-putted his way to another birdie.
At the 10th hole, the downhill par 4, Moore made the only real long putt of the week — a 23-footer — for a third birdie in four holes.
Crucial to his round were the birdies he made at three par-5 holes on Nos. 2, 8 and 13.
“I just hit better golf shots there. It is pretty simple,” Moore said.
“There are holes you can score on. But there are also holes you can make mistakes on. It is that fine line of taking it aggressive enough off the tee so you have a reasonable second shot, but then trying to be safe with it.
“This course tests you in that way. It makes you balance those two things.”