Ryan Moore hadn’t played competitively since capturing the individual title at the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship June 4.
It didn’t matter. The UNLV senior picked up right where he left off, crushing the competition at the Sahalee Players Championship by five shots July 10, setting a tournament record with a 16-under-par 272 total (Results, p21).
After winning the NCAA title, Moore had undergone surgery to remove a tailbone cyst, but the layoff didn’t affect his game. He had five birdies and no bogeys in a final-round 67 at Sahalee Country Club. James Nitties (67), a member of the Australian national team, finished second at 11-under 277, with fellow Aussie Michael Sim (71) third at 6-under 282.
“I didn’t have super-high expectations, knowing that I took a little layoff and that I could be a little rusty,” Moore, a native of Puyallup, Wash, told The Seattle Times. “I wasn’t worried about breaking records, or shooting 65, or 67, 68. I was just out there hitting every shot for what it’s worth. It’s nice to be back where I was a month ago and hitting the ball well.”
Moore used the event as a tune-up for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, which began July 12 in Maple Grove, Minn. Moore won the event in 2002.
“I threw everything at him today and still couldn’t get a shot on him,” Nitties told The Seattle Times. “The whole day I was just sort of playing for second place, because Ryan was playing so well. I made three birdies early, and he made two, so I wasn’t really catching up with him.”