Walking out of the scoring trailer at the Travelers Championship a week ago, Ryan Moore didn’t think he had a shot to secure a spot at the Open Championship. He said to his playing partner, Padraig Harrington, “Oh yeah, good luck at the British since I won’t be there.”
In fact, he was heading home to Tacoma, WA, for a four-week break.
A reporter asked, “You’re not playing?” Ryan explained he hadn’t qualified and joked it was “impossible” for him to get in the field at the Open. While he played at the 2007 Open, somehow he just hasn’t been able to consistently make the trip across the pond, but not for lack of effort.
Now, with a second place finish at the AT&T after firing a stellar five-under 65, the low round of the day, he clinched a spot because he was the top player (not already exempt) to finish in the top five at AT&T National. Jeff Overton, who finished third, a stroke behind Ryan, was also looking for a trip to Scotland.
Ryan’s solid putting deserves credit. He made eight one-putts on the back nine. On the 17th hole, he had a nine footer for birdie, which he sank to get to 9-under and pass Overton. And how about the clutch par save on the 18th. After hitting his approach in the bunker, he knocked his sand shot to about 10 feet.
With the pressure on, he actually stayed calm. “I was thinking I had to make it if I wanted to win the golf tournament,” Ryan said via text. “I wasn’t that nervous, which was weird. I was more nervous [over my birdie putt] on 17.”
Pumped to make the trip to St. Andrews, he just needs to sort out a minor detail — finding his passport, which he thinks is somewhere in his Phoenix home.
It will be Ryan’s first time playing St. Andrews. As the reigning US Amateur champion, he was exempt for the Open when it was last played there in 2005, but he opted to turn pro instead. Moore, a fan of links golf, says he’ll probably leave on Thursday for Scotland to prepare.
“I’m just going to go over and play the course as much as I can,” he said via text message.
Turns out the impossible sometimes is possible — though it’s never easy. But Ryan stepped up when it mattered, posting four fantastic rounds of golf on a tough track. And now he’ll have a chance to vie for the Claret Jug at golf’s grandest stage.
[Photo by Kyle Auclair/Insidetheropes.com]