Nerves, passion and strong emotions are already running high amongst the 30 players in the field at East Lake — and no, unfortunately, these feelings aren’t necessarily inspired by the absolutely thrilling Tour Championship after the first round, and the
kinda tacky $10-million FedExCup prize to the winner of the year-long contest. It’s all about next week’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. And it’s already getting all Mean Girls!
Perhaps the most common and striking sentiment from the three players Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger (actually four, keep reading…) has simply caused even more confusion than anything. It’s fair to assume Bubba, JT and Berger were invited because American team captain Love has already narrowed down his fourth pick to three players. Well, turns out we can add Ryan Moore to the list. As you may recall, Moore used to be a matchplay specialist. He was so good in head-to-head matches that he made Ian Poulter look like a hack.
In summer 2004 Moore had a one of the most heralded seasons in modern-day amateur golf. Moore went on to win the US Amateur, the Western Amateur, the US Amateur Public Links, which he first won in 2002, not to mention he won the NCAA individual championship (FYI, this was before the NCAA changed the format to matchplay like it is now.) Essentially, Moore was a USGA star who was arguably the best in the world at matchplay. Now, that was all a long time ago, but I know how much he cherishes that era of his career, so maybe the memories would come flooding back or the nerves would kick in.
But I digress. Love invited Moore to Hazeltine, but Ryan Moore pulled a Ryan Moore — he graciously declined the offer, explaining he had been on the road for seven straight weeks and he had longstanding plans with friends and family at home in Las Vegas. When I say he took a page out of his playbook, I say it good-naturedly. (I grew up playing junior golf with Moore and I just wasn’t surprised when I read that he had declined to show up at Hazeltine and he’s always been different.) Not that this is that unusual, but he’s the kind of a guy who wouldn’t want to be on the team unless he made it on merit.
However, Moore told Love that if going to play with some of the guys this past Monday, with the other three potential picks would help his cause and/or get him picked he would break his previous commitment. Love was understanding and told Moore not to worry and said it wouldn’t factor into his decision.