ARDMORE, Pa. – It is apparent in the terse tone of his voice as much as in his words. Puyallup’s Ryan Moore is at wit’s end with the U.S. Open.
Clearly fueling part of his disgust Thursday was his score to open the 113th U.S. Open – a career-worst 79 (9-over par) at historic Merion Golf Club’s East Course.
Unless he stages a big rally in the second round, he will likely miss the cut at back-to-back U.S. Opens for the first time in his career. He missed the cut in 2011 at Congressional Country Club and didn’t play in the event last year.
His main beef with the United States Golf Association is how the championship setup has evolved from a stern test of golf to an unfair manipulation of the course’s natural design, all in an effort to keep U.S. Open scoring as high as possible.
The thought of even skipping future U.S. Opens has crossed his mind, Moore admitted.
“It’s been in my head for a while,” Moore said. “(USGA officials) are making it really hard to want to go play it right now, personally.”
Thursday was just a brutal day for Moore all around. Teeing off early in the morning, he made par on the first hole, and had just lagged a birdie putt at No. 2 close when the horn sounded just after 8:30 a.m. to suspend play because of impending thunderstorms.
Golfers waited more than 31/2 hours to return. And when Moore did, he was not sharp on a very difficult stretch of holes.
At the long par-3 third hole, his 3-wood tee shot landed short of a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey.
And at No. 4, the course’s longest par 5, he drove it into the right rough and laid up well back. His third shot from 240 yards leaked left into tall grass, and his fourth shot – a lob over a greenside bunker – came up short and stuck in tall fescue. He left the hole with double bogey.
What likely drew Moore’s ire was what happened on the next hole – the long par-4 fifth. Because this is a shorter course than what has hosted most U.S. Opens, USGA officials opted to narrow Merion East’s fairways to unprecedented measurements.
Moore did hit that fifth-hole fairway with his tee shot, only to see his ball take a huge kick left and stop on the side hill of a hazard.
He punched out, then came up short with a wedge approach on his third shot. Opting to putt from 60 feet off the green, he nestled it close, but missed the 4-footer coming back for a second consecutive double bogey.
At that point, he was 6 over through six holes.
“It is hard to regroup (after a delay) and get going again sometimes. You hope you get off to a good start again, and kind of get into a good rhythm. I unfortunately got off to a bad start, and got into a bad rhythm,” Moore said. “I just kept hitting bad shots … on unfortunately the hardest holes on the golf course.”
Unlike other U.S. Open courses he has played in the past, Moore really came away impressed by Merion East this week during practice rounds.
Asked if he still liked it as much, the three-time USGA champion offered a conditional response.
“Maybe if I got to just play it the way it was meant to be played – a normal, nice golf course, I probably would enjoy it,” Moore said. Would I have … today? No. I don’t know if anybody would.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 Todd.firstname.lastname@example.org blogs.thenewstribune.com/golf @ManyHatsMilles