Ryan Moore has been there, done that, and now he can’t wait to get back there and do it again.
The nation’s most decorated amateur will be back at Augusta National Golf Club to give the Masters another whirl before turning professional sometime this summer.
“To get to play in the Masters once as an amateur is like a dream,” said Moore, of Puyallup, Wash. “To get to play in it twice as an amateur is like, ‘Wow.’ ”
Moore earned his first invitation to the Masters in 2003 after winning the 2002 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. He was dazzled by the atmosphere and surroundings, but he made the cut and tied for 45th.
“The first time was really a learning experience,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll still be learning this time around, but at least I’ll be a little more familiar with the course and a little more adjusted to everything that goes on that week.”
Yes, Moore is a bit older, a bit wiser, but most importantly, is bursting with confidence in his game. He dominated college and amateur golf over the past year.
Many consider Moore’s 2004 amateur season to be the best since the days of Bobby Jones.
In fact, Moore actually earned two invitations to this year’s Masters – the first for his second U.S. Amateur Public Links victory and the next for his win at the U.S. Amateur Championship. It’s the first time a player has accomplished the feat since Augusta began limiting its amateur invitations to the winners of the U.S. Public Links, U.S. Mid-Amateur, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur, along with the U.S. Amateur runner-up.
Moore also won the NCAA Championship, Sahalee Players Championship and Western Amateur before closing out the year by finishing as medalist at the World Amateur Team Championship.
“I can’t wait to get back (to Augusta),” said Moore, who is No. 1 in the Golfweek/Titleist Amateur Rankings and the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. “I think I’ll feel comfortable. I love firm, fast greens, and they certainly have those there. I don’t think it’s a matter of does the golf course suit my game, as much as does my game suit the golf course.
“The bottom line is you have to hit the shots. It doesn’t matter where you are, you have to execute your golf shots. The main thing, for me anyway, is to go out and . . . not try to overthink or overanalyze, but just play.”
Again this year, Moore plans to spend the week in the famed Crow’s Nest above the clubhouse, a living area designated for amateurs competing in the Masters. He still is lining up practice rounds with veteran Masters performers as he absorbs all the knowledge he can about the Augusta National layout.
Though still a bit star-struck when pondering his imminent return to Augusta, Moore has a track record over the past year that has only served to heighten his expectations.
“I know there is still so much I have to learn, especially around those greens,” Moore said. “Even though I’ve played in it before, I know I’ll go there and still be in awe and still look at it as an amazing experience. But I’m also going to try to look at it as a tournament.
“I feel I can go there and play and compete. Can I win? Well, let’s put it this way, every tournament I play, I start out with the idea I can win. You have to do that because that’s why you are out there. And sometimes you just never know what might happen.”