Todd Milles of the TACOMA NEWS-TRIBUNE was at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last weekend to cover the tournament and follow the fortunes of former local prodigy Ryan Moore.
(“Itâ€™s just a horrible golf hole the way (the USGA) set it up”)
The 27-year-old Moore, probably best known to casual fans as the guy who wears a tie while playing, has a decorated resume from playing in USGA-staged events. He won the U.S. Amateur in 2004 and the U.S. Amateur Public Links title in 2002 and 2004.
Sunday Moore finished a respectable 33rd in the USGA’s signature event, making his third major tournament cut in a row and eighth overall.
But after the tournament none of that mattered to Moore, who criticized the USGA’s annual handling of the U.S. Open like no other player in recent memory:
“U.S. Opens are U.S. Opens. I feel like (the USGA) is â€¦ going for trickiness, to be honest. Iâ€™ve played in five now. Three out of five were just extremely tricky and they had nothing to do with being difficult.
“They know they can do something about hole (No. 14). It would take not much to make that green halfway reasonable. They refuse to do it. Beyond that, they make it more severe and tricky on top of it. I think they go for a spectacle or something. They want something to draw attention â€¦ or make everybody look stupid, I guess.
“It doesnâ€™t reward good golf shots. That is why I donâ€™t understand why you have a tournament that doesnâ€™t reward good golf shots.
“â€śItâ€™s just a horrible golf hole the way (the USGA) set it up. I donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re trying to demand. Where is the skill? I donâ€™t know. If you canâ€™t even hit a shot to stay on the green, where is the skill involved?
Moore later said he could not â€śphysically â€¦ hit the shotsâ€ť the USGA requires to score at a U.S. Open.
“I donâ€™t know. Iâ€™ll probably keep playing them, just to torture myself once a year. I get angry, and it makes me hate golf for two months. Then Iâ€™m OK again.
“Iâ€™m sure all of this is going to be printed, and (the USGA) is going to hate me. But Iâ€™m OK with it. Iâ€™ve won three of their championships. Iâ€™m OK.”
The course was incredibly tough, and 14 was borderline unplayable. The surface of the greens was also gnarly and inconsistent.
But if you watched the final round from start to finish, particularly the leaders, you saw a jaw-dropping amount of inconsistent ball-striking. That includes teebox and fairway shots largely unaffected by the oft-volatile weather conditions at Pebble Beach.
Moore knows as well as anyone that the Open isn’t about shot-making, it’s about keeping the ball in play and making putts. He did neither. For him to blame the track for his inconsistent play, with his background, is intellectually dishonest.
When you think your fate is completely out of control, things can only end up one way. Based on his post-tournament attitude, Moore got what he deserved.