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Washington native Ryan Moore well prepared for U.S. Open test

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Ryan Moore will fool you.

He looks hip. Tight clothing is his best friend. He has mastered the sports noir look, often opting for dark or muted colors. He walks with a certain swagger. He could be straight out of an old Carly Simon song – “one eye on the mirror.” He is widely regarded as something of a rebel, a player who has turned down lucrative contracts from golf companies because he didn’t want to sacrifice or compromise his own unique identity.

Behind all that bravado is a smart, calculating, articulate 32-year-old man who can talk like a university professor and handle a golf club as skillfully as a musical virtuoso can play an instrument.

Moore grew up in Puyallup, Wash., some 10 miles from here. The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay is a home game for him, and he would like to survey himself on the leaderboard.

It isn’t necessary to picture Marlon Brando – “I could’ve been a contender” – because Moore has been a golf prodigy since he first swung a club as a preschooler. He became the No. 1 junior golfer in the world, then the No. 1 amateur in the world.

Moore’s father, Mike, is a golf nut in his own right and has gone from driving-range impresario to the patriarch of Ryan Moore Golf, which owns and manages three golf courses in the greater Tacoma area (The Classic Golf Club, Oakbrook Golf Club and McCormick Woods Golf Course).

Ryan attended UNLV, where the young rebel became a Running Rebel (good for his image). He won the NCAA individual title (good for his future). He has won four PGA Tour events (good for his pocketbook).

What we don’t often hear is this: Moore, with a degree in communications and public relations, actually graduated from college, something Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods never did.

There is a deep side to his personality, a side that most of us never hear or see.

Oh, there are glimpses. When he sat down Monday at Chambers Bay, Moore explained at length his feelings about Chambers Bay and other firm links-style golf courses.

“You have to let the golf courses dictate what you can do,” he said. “You can’t force your will on the golf course. You have to let the course kind of give you what it can. I’ve gotten better at that. I’ve played a lot better in the British Opens in the last few years, just getting good at picking a spot, hitting the ball to it, then letting it go. You did everything you can; you have to let the golf ball go where the golf course wants to take it.

“There’s certainly a lot of skill involved in it, and mentally it’s a little bit tougher because you can’t just do what you want to do. You have to really take your time and be more patient and hit it 25, 30 feet away from pins a lot. That’s OK because you can’t run the risk of ending up on a swale with an impossible chip. Personally I like that kind of golf course. You have to think your way through it, and you have to think your way through every golf shot. I enjoy that.”

As PGA Tour players go, this was a dissertation.

In January 2015, Moore the grownup rebel announced he would play the Tour without an equipment contract. He was a member of the TaylorMade staff in 2013 and ’14, following three years on the Adams Golf staff.

“They (TaylorMade) made a great offer, but it wasn’t the right time or fit for me to sign a deal,” he said.

When Moore recently abandoned his holdout and signed with Parsons Xtreme Golf, a new company owned by GoDaddy.com founder Bob Parsons, it was clear that he was thinking golf and not dollars.

“I love these clubs,” Moore said. “I’ve been looking and looking, and finally I have an answer. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t mean it.”

We know. From the secretly serious Ryan Moore, this was a mouthful.

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