Chambers Bay leaves Moore impressed

It was Ryan Moore’s turn to take a crack at Chambers Bay Golf Course on Wednesday afternoon on his week off from the PGA Tour.

Under the same ideal conditions and playing from the same championship tees as fellow Pierce County professional Michael Putnam did six days before, Moore fired a 1-under-par 71 on the 7,585-yard, par-72 layout in University Place.

“It’s a long golf course, a really long golf course,” Moore said after his three-birdie, two-bogey round. “You have to hit good drives, put it in the right spot or else it’s tough to get it around (the hole), that’s for sure.”

The 2004 NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion from Puyallup finished 68th at The Players Championship last week in Florida, ending a five-week stretch of tournaments.

He knew he had a date awaiting him at Chambers Bay, a facility he toured with his father, Mike, in late December.

“It’s just hard to tell how a course is going to play until you hit shots,” Moore said.

He brought along an ambitious bunch for his foursome – his father; younger brother, Jason; and The Classic Golf Club’s head professional Scot Solomonson. They played from the back tees.

Moore birdied three of the four par-5s – No. 4 (568 yards), No. 8 (602 yards) and No. 13 (534 yards).

His 78-yard wedge shot on the eighth hole stopped inches from the hole for a tap-in birdie to move him back to even par, offsetting earlier bogeys on the first and seventh holes.

Moore drove the green on the uphill 304-yard, par-4 12th, but had two mounds to go over on the hole’s spacious green, and he three-putted for par.

He did lace a 3-wood approach to the back fringe on the 13th hole en route to his final birdie to move to 1-under.

He went to the 18th hole, a 604-yard, par-5, with a chance to match Putnam’s course record of 2-under 70. He was 30 yards short of the green after two shots, but left his 15-foot birdie on the edge of the cup.

In terms of ambiance and shotmaking value, Moore compared Chambers Bay to Royal Birkdale Golf Club in England, site of eight British Opens.

“There’s some great holes. No. 9 is a really fun little par-3 (227 yards) down the hill, and would be intimidating with a 15 to 20 mph breeze,” Moore said. “No. 10 (par-4) is a great hole. … The whole course makes you feel like you’re playing in Ireland, or Scotland, with a little more elevation.”

Unless some superstar makes an unannounced visit this summer, it looks like Putnam will hold the course record for the next few months.

The back tees will be closed to the public, and the next big event on the schedule is a college tournament, the Big Ten-Pacific-10 Challenge in October.

“I’ll let him have it,” Moore said. “He deserves it. Obviously he played a little bit better than I did.”

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442