Tour pros hit town for skins

Puyallup’s Ryan Moore never had a doubt PGA Tour golf would return to the Northwest, if he had anything to say about it.

In what form, he had no idea.

So, he thought about it when he was approached last spring about starting an event in the South Sound.

An actual tour event? Not his call.

A two-day exhibition tournament? Too many players for a ground-floor event.

Pro-am? Too stuffy, and not good for spectators.

One style did stick with Moore – a skins game.

And that is what takes place – the BMW Northwest Skins Game – today at Chambers Bay Golf Links in University Place.

Joining him are some of the rising 20-somethings on the PGA Tour – fellow Pierce County product Michael Putnam, Australian Aaron Baddeley and Florida’s Bubba Watson – to kick off the inaugural event.

For starters, Moore doesn’t know what to expect when the celebrity foursome tees off at 9 a.m.

“I’ve never played in one,” Moore said. “I thought it looked fun on TV. Honestly, I wanted to have an event with a little bit more personality for people to watch, and I felt (the skins game) held a little more intimate setting.”

He’s not alone – Putnam and Baddeley have never participated in an organized skins game. Watson used to organize one with Joe Durant, Boo Weekley, Heath Slocum and Ben Bates in Florida.

“They’re fun,” Watson said. (Today), I’m hopeful these guys don’t hit irons off the tee. We all need to hit drivers, have fun with the game ... and make the crowd laugh.”

Moore is bringing this first edition along with a little twist: Players will be interviewed after shots, or as they walk along Chambers Bay’s fairways.

If the gallery isn’t able to get close to the action to hear their comments – the golfers will be roped off from the side and behind as they walk – patrons will be able to get a live feed over wireless loud speakers.

“It’s the basic fabric of the event,” said Jeremy Moore, Ryan’s brother and integral member of organizing the Northwest Skins Game. “We wanted it to be interactive with the crowd.”

Then there is the strategy itself, one that should lend to going-for-the-pin shot-making.

“I’ve played skins games in practice rounds, but never for more than $10,” Putnam said. “This should allow the players, as well as the crowd, to see really good shots. You have to make birdies, or eagles, to win skins, so we’ll be firing away, hitting shots we wouldn’t in stroke play.”

A skins game has more of a match play feel to it. Whoever wins a hole earns a skin, which usually carries a designated amount.If two or more golfers tie on a hole, the money amount is added to the next hole’s amount.

Traditionally, holes later in the round hold more in value than earlier holes. How much each hole is worth will be determined today before the round starts. Golfers are playing for a purse of $100,000 going to charity.

Watson knows the hometown guys will be cheered for. They should be – it’s their event.

“We beat them (Monday),” said Watson, referring to a morning competition at Tacoma Country and Golf Club. “That was for fun. I think it’s all individual today. I want to get one, and quick, so I don’t get shut out. Nobody wants to get shut out.”

Pros hunt skins in northwest

PGA Tour golfers Ryan Moore, Michael Putnam, Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley convene in the South Sound for the inaugural BMW Northwest Skins Game, with $100,000 available for the players’ chosen charities.

Where: 9 a.m. today Chambers Bay Golf Links in University Place.

Tickets: $20 for adults at the golf course.

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442