No matter what happens this week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Ryan Moore will have something to celebrate.
Moore, the tournament’s defending champion, would love to repeat at TPC Summerlin. But even if he doesn’t, there will be a party in Las Vegas. Moore’s son, Tucker, turns 1 on Saturday, and the former UNLV All-American is enjoying fatherhood.
“It’s been incredible,” said Moore, 30. “Obviously, there’s some adjustments with the schedule, but it’s been nothing but positive.”
Moore’s win last year was the result of maturity and resiliency. He led by one shot entering the final round but knew no lead at TPC Summerlin was completely safe. He held off challenges early from Jason Day, who shot an amazing 28 for the first nine holes, and late from Brendon de Jonge, who pulled even with Moore through 13. But Moore answered with birdie at 16 and held off de Jonge to win for the second time on the PGA Tour and post a tournament 72-hole record 28-under-par 260, which included a first-round 10-under 61.
“It was great to win, especially here at a tournament that means so much to me,” Moore said. “Being a UNLV guy and living here, it’s like a fifth major to me. I value it so much. And to do it the way I did it, with my entire family here and my wife’s (Nichole) family here, that made it even more special.”
Moore didn’t win in the 2013 season but made $1,490,265. He had three top-10 finishes and was 68th in the FedEx Cup rankings.
Moore said he likes the new format for 2013-14, which includes the Shriners Open in the FedEx points chase. This year’s winner receives 500 points and an invitation to the 2014 Masters.
“I’m real excited about the new system,” said Moore, who made a career-best $2,858,944 in 2012. “It’s an opportunity to get off to a great head start.”
Moore has tried to give back to the game in his native Washington. His RMG Golf Course Management, which oversees Oakbrook Country Club, McCormick Woods and The Classic at Spanaway, is wrapping up its second year of operation. Golfers have unlimited playing privileges at the three courses for as little as $59 a month.
“We’re very pleased with the response,” said Moore. “We’re trying a different approach to membership and make it affordable for people to enjoy playing three very good golf courses.”
Moore, one of seven former UNLV golfers competing this week, said he never will forget the support he received from the gallery last year.
“It was tremendous hearing the crowd pull for me,” he said. “It made it that much more special.”
Moore’s familiarity with TPC Summerlin should help his game again this week. But he’s not taking his home-course knowledge for granted.
“I mean, it’s huge, but it doesn’t always mean you’re going to play good, just because it’s a course you play often and a course you’re comfortable with,” he said. “That’s what we kind of talked about earlier is last year is the first time I kind of approached this tournament and this golf course like I would approach any other tournament golf course. I actually really looked at it, it’s easy sometimes to kind of get lazy and a little complacent on a golf course that you’re comfortable with and you’re not used to hitting shots.
“So for me last year I made myself step back and look at each hole and really think it through, like if I had never played this golf course before and I was going to come play a tournament here, what would I want to do on this hole, what spots on this course can lead to a double bogey, where do you really need to avoid.
“I made a lot less bogeys here last year than I have in the past, and I think that kind of keeps your momentum alive, especially in a tournament where you need to make a lot of birdies.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.