The Loop

Moore enjoys his 'Open'-ing

MAMARONECK, N.Y.—He shouldn’t even be here, really. After all Jonathan Moore played in U.S. Open local qualifying about a month ago, shot a disappointing 75 and like the vast majority of the thousands who apply to play in the championship each year, was resigned to watching the tournament proper on the barkalounger in his Vancouver, Wash., home, having failed to advance. Oh, well. Better luck next year.


Ironically Moore was heading to Creswell anyway, as he was all set to caddie for his college roommate and fellow member of the Cowboy golf team, Pablo Martin.

Even more ironic, then, is the fact Moore and Martin wound up tied for medalist honors at Emerald Valley GC, each shooting seven-under 137. Moore bested his buddy on the first playoff hole, making a birdie to earn a trip to the greater New York area.

OK, get to the point you say? Well, my point in sharing all this is that Moore is my pick to be low amateur this week at Winged Foot. Like Ben Crenshaw circa the 1999 Ryder Cup, I too believe in fate. Moore’s presence here is a testament to his own personal perseverance, after going through a horrendous slump his first year on campus at OSU after having a standout junior golf career.

How bad did it get for Moore? During one round at OSU’s Karsten Creek GC, Moore shot a 65.

For nine holes.

“I had rounds in the 100s,” Moore confessed to me a few weeks back while he was posting a 12-under 276 at Sunriver Resort’s Crosswater Club to win the NCAA title by four shots. “But the whole time I was excited to go to the course. I still had a passion for the game.”

Moore’s showing at nationals brought to three the number of consecutive tournaments he had won (taking the title at college’s Maxwell event and the Central Regional) and 10 the number of consecutive competitive college rounds under par.

Yes, it’s fair to say that Moore is on a roll, which is why I not only like him as the pick for low amateur but I think he’ll have a shot at finishing in the top 15 and earning a place in the field at next year’s open at Oakmont CC.

Mind you, Moore does have some decent competition for low amateur honors. Unlike the Masters, where the amateur field was short on household names and long on jittery newcomers, this week’s group has a number of players who are in game shape as they get set to tee it up tomorrow.

Here’s a quick look at how the other eight might fare:


Ryan Baca

](—Just finished up college career at Baylor by earning first-team All-American honors. Will turn pro later this year. Played at Winged Foot in the 2004 U.S. Amateur, but failed to advance to match play.

Predicted finish: T-50


Alex Coe

](—The graduating senior from Pepperdine made it through a seven-man playoff at the sectional qualifier in Daly City, Calif., to get here. Won two college titles with the Waves.

Predicted finish: Missed cut

Dillon Dougherty—U.S. Amateur runner-up gets final perk for his performance at Merion GC last summer. Unfortunately, like at Augusta National, the recent graduate from Northwestern’s game isn’t as sharp as he’d like it.

Predicted finish: Missed cut


Tadd Fujikawa __—Qualified in Hawaii and at 15 will be the second-youngest known player to compete in the U.S. Open. Handled himself well during his media press conference yesterday, but the moment is likely to overwhelm the high school sophomore-to-be.

Predicted finish: Missed cut


Billy Horschel__

](—Unheralded coming into college this past fall, the 19-year-old proved a point to himself by earning first-team All-American honors as a freshman for Florida. A year ago another confident/bordering on cocky Gator, Matt Every, was the low amateur at the U.S. Open. Suffice it to say, Horschel could make it 2-for-2.

Predicted finish: T-35


Edoardo Molinari__

](—The good news is the U.S. Amateur champion won’t be intimidated by playing with Tiger Woods, having done so at the Masters in April. The bad news is he’s not likely to fair any better than he did at Augusta National.

Predicted finish: Missed cut


Patrick Nagle__

](—Like Coe, this senior-to-be at Illinois also survived playoff. Three-time All-Big Ten selection and the conference freshman of the year in 2004.

Predicted finish: Missed cut


Ryan Posey

](—The other Oklahoma State amateur in the field, although the 22-year-old struggled to get into the Cowboys lineup this season, missing out on playing at nationals.

Predicted finish: Missed cut