On a day when the 41st Ryder Cup became enveloped by insufferable noise from grown men who apparently can’t help themselves, it was a stroke of good fortune to stumble upon an unheralded American who goes about his job the old-fashioned way.
He keeps his head down, plays golf and maintains an even demeanour.
That Ryan Moore is even here at Hazeltine National Golf Club is testament, perhaps, to a new commitment by the Americans to think outside-the-box. Up until early Sunday, Moore was not on the American team and, honestly, wasn’t a leading candidate for the last captain’s pick.
The pick was in the bag. It was going to be Bubba Watson, which would have surprised exactly nobody.
Then, the 33-year-old Moore gave US captain Davis Love III reason to reach for the antacids. Moore played brilliantly in the last round of the season-ending Tour Championship, shot 64 to force a playoff with Rory McIlroy, then slam-dunked two pressure-packed putts to nearly win.
That Moore, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour who is in his 12th season, lost on the fourth extra hole to the dynamic McIlroy did nothing to dissuade Love from changing his mind.
Match play, which is the format of choice in the Ryder Cup, is all about putting and Love could not resist the splendid putting stroke of Moore.
So, at a time in his career when Moore had come to the belief that he wasn’t “one of the good ol’ boys” who would earn a captain’s pick, he got the call. Shock of shocks, but let the record show, he’s ready.
“I’m here to be an asset to this team in whatever way I can,” declared the appreciative Moore.
He never denied that, at times, he didn’t feel as if he’d ever get a fair look, that there seemed to be other players who were in the clique and therefore had an advantage over him.
Fair enough, Moore has said on more than one occasion, but he wasn’t going to change his personality and start pretending that the Ryder Cup was at the heart of his golf world. It wasn’t.
“I’m over thinking about it at this point,” he said in late August. “It’s not a driving force for me in the game of golf. Maybe because I haven’t been on the team, I have no idea.”
He once finished 11th in the standings for the Presidents Cup, where the top 10 got the call.
Normally, No 11 gets the first captain’s pick, but Moore didn’t. Nor did he get a call from Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson in 2014, and ditto a few other seasons when he was inside the top 20.
The glory of Moore? He never complained, never lobbied for a spot, never texted a captain to plead his case. Round of applause, please, for a guy who simply went about his duties, a man surely not residing in the “look at me” world, where so many others claim citizenship.
“He marches to the beat of his own drummer,” said fellow PGA Tour competitor Brandt Snedeker. “He’s not afraid to be a guy out there on a limb and be something different than everybody else, which I respect.”
Sad that there are so many unlike Moore. Take Pete Willett, whose only connection to the Ryder Cup is that he happens to have a brother, Danny, who made the European team, or Phil Mickelson, who has never been involved in a losing match that he would take ownership of; better to point the finger elsewhere.
For some reason, Pete Willett decided to pen a viciously mean-spirited article that disparages American golf fans in something called NationalClubGolfer.com. It doesn’t deserve any more of a mention than that, but it is worthy of mention to say that Mickelson’s rip-job of former Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton was uncalled for.
Sutton had the guts to pair Mickelson with Tiger Woods 12 years ago. It was an electric moment and that the left-hander and Woods lost, two and one, to Colin Montgomerie and Pádraig Harrington is on Woods and Mickelson, not captain Sutton.
Utterly shameful for Mickelson to behave like that; unlike Pete Willett, however, he should have known better. If he didn’t, Mickelson could have walked across the locker room and asked Moore for his opinion.
Likely Moore would have suggested what always works for him: Keep your mouth shut and play good golf.
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