Ryan Moore’s win in 2009 at the Wyndham Championship will always be earmarked. It was the Puyallup golfer’s first professional victory on the PGA Tour.
Except on that late August night, he celebrated with little fanfare and no family around.
More than three years and 79 PGA Tour tournaments later, as Moore was putting on the finishing touches of his record-breaking showing at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas, parked in the back of the 18th green was virtually every important member of his support group.
The 29-year-old tapped in a 2-foot putt for par on the final hole, and raised his arms in victory. He closed with a 5-under-par 66 at TPC Summerlin to edge Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge by one stroke.
Moore’s four-round total of 24-under 260 set a tournament record. The previous mark was 261, set by Kevin Na last season.
“To go out, and actually play that well ... this is a really important event for me,” said Moore, who now lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Nichole. The couple is expecting their first child – a son – at the end of the month.
“It’s one I’ve really wanted to, I mean, to win certainly – but even just play well and be in contention and be in the mix there on the weekend.”
Moore shot a 61 on Thursday to grab the early tournament lead. Over the past two days, he, de Jonge and Jonas Blixt – who played together in the final two rounds – pulled away from the field.
And on Sunday, Moore and de Jonge, who was in search of his first PGA Tour win, started making birdies to make it a two-player race for the title.
Both were tied at 23 under when de Jonge pushed his drive into the trees on the par-5 16th hole. Meanwhile, Moore had a green-light approach from 235 yards in the fairway, and hit a 4-iron to the back fringe.
Moore two-putted from 35 feet for birdie. Forced to lay up out of trouble, de Jonge faced a putt of a similar distance for birdie, and missed. Moore never relinquished the lead.
“I played nicely all week,” de Jonge said. “Hat’s off to Ryan – he played great, especially down the stretch.”
De Jonge had one final chance to tie on the final hole but left his 40-foot putt short of the cup. All Moore had to do after that was two-putt from 15 feet, which he did.
The win capped an unbelievable summer for the Cascade Christian graduate – one that had two distinct turning points.
The first one came in March, when Moore parted ways with swing coach Troy Denton and started working with Kendal Yonemoto, a former Canadian Tour professional out of Vancouver, B.C.
Yonemoto is more of a teacher of golf-related fitness, and really helped Moore get in a better athletic position to strike golf shots.
The second came early in the FedEx Cup playoffs – in September at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Struggling much of the season with his putting, Moore consulted younger brother Jason on his alignment and eye position.
Jason Moore, also a former caddie, gave Ryan a few tips – and he has been lights-out on the greens ever since with four consecutive top-10 finishes, capped by his Sunday win in front of 50 family members and friends.
It was a much better way to celebrate a win than in 2009.
“Well, I had to take a lot more pictures, that’s for sure, after this one,” Moore said. “Just to have everybody here be involved and be able to all go out to dinner tonight and celebrate ... it was a perfect week.
“And I’m excited for the offseason, having a baby here in about 25 days. And I am really excited for next year. It was a great way to go out.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com @ManyHatsMilles blogs.thenewstribune.com/golf