University Place’s Michael Putnam might be the local golfer hitting the opening tee ball Thursday of the 115th United States Open championship, but Puyallup’s Ryan Moore got a much more revered nod: sitting down first with the press corps.
With Lee Janzen’s late arrival to Chambers Bay, Moore kicked off the USGA’s run of press conferences in the interview room Monday — in front of a surprisingly large number of reporters.
Topics ranged from whether long hitters have an advantage at Chambers Bay (answer: “not necessarily”); to how many friends and family members are coming out to watch Moore play in the hometown U.S. Open (“extra tickets … I can use”); to is there such a thing as a home-field advantage (“don’t really think so … these guys are really good at figuring out golf courses really fast”); to what was the strangest question he has gotten from fellow PGA Tour players about Chambers Bay (“plenty of guys asked me if they could stay in Seattle”).
A hot-button topic this week will be the course’s fine fescue greens, which are seen on some of the British Open layouts, but can hardly be found in the United States.
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“Honestly, they’re not the prettiest greens in the world, but no fescue greens are that pretty,” Moore said. “It actually rolls better than it looks.”
On earlier occasions in which Moore played Chambers Bay — for his BMW Northwest Skins Game in 2007 and 2008, and for a U.S. Amateur promotional round in 2010 — he recommended the greens be converted from fescue to smoother, faster-growing bent grass.
But on Monday, he admitted he’s been satisfied with the fescue surfaces.
“I’ve been really impressed with my rounds of golf,” Moore said. “I played nine holes with Charley Hoffman the other day, and he kind of assessed it the same (way): They look like they are going to bounce a lot, and they look like they’re going to bounce off line, but if you hit a good putt, it goes in. It really rolls true. It breaks how you think it’s going to break.”
After his tied-for-18th showing June 7 at the Memorial Tournament, Moore said he was disgusted with how off his swing was — a feeling he’s had much of the past couple of months.
He said after a couple of practice-range sessions with instructor Troy Denton last week, the swing feels better.
“I actually have been really encouraged the last few (practice) rounds,” Moore said. “I think this type of golf — links golf — simplifies things for you sometimes, because it isn’t everything through the air.
“I am good at dealing with, ‘This is what the course is going to give me, so this is what I have to hit — the shot I have to hit.’ ”
The last few times around Chambers Bay, Moore has had course caddie and good friend Brandon Solomonson advising him on some of the unique bounces he will experience this week.
“He caddied at the U.S. Amateur, which was firm and fast, so he’s seen it,” Moore said. “He’s given me clues to when it is really fast, that I have to keep it on this line.
“Hearing that stuff was great … but some of the stuff he was showing me, I was like, ‘Wow, OK, I can see that being a possibility, but not being able to imagine it.’ ”