By Ken MacLeod
Taylor Moore didn’t wait until he had millions of PGA Tour dollars stuffed in his bank account to give back to those who helped him achieve his dream of becoming a professional golfer.
Moore, who grew up playing in Oklahoma Junior Golf Tour and Oklahoma Golf Association events from his Edmond home, has announced he will sponsor the OGA Junior Boys and Girls Championship, this year scheduled June 3-6 at Kickingbird Golf Course in Edmond.
Brian Soerensen, the PGA director of golf at Kickingbird, has known and mentored Moore for years, and the two had wide ranging discussions about how Moore could contribute before settling on the OGA Junior sponsorship.
“We wanted to give the kids an experience they won’t forget and create the best state junior championship in the country,” Moore said. “We want to give them a little bit of the experience of what it’s like to play in a tour events, with ropes around the putting green, tee gifts, other little touches that will make it a really special event.”
Moore, who was also an excellent baseball player, was a two-time state champion at Edmond Memorial and entered the University of Arkansas as one of the top-ranked juniors in the country. Following a successful collegiate and amateur career, he qualified for the Web.com Tour by finishing third on the order of merit on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada in 2016.
At age 25, Moore seems poised for a breakout year on the Web.com Tour and hopes to be on the PGA Tour for 2020, but there are no guarantees. He made the cut in only four his final 13 events in 2018 but still finished 30th on the money list. That makes his willingness to give back now all the more compelling.
“I think it’s just awesome that Taylor is wanting to do this,” Soerensen said. “Him giving back to junior golf is just a great gesture. Our thought is to create a premier junior tournament in Oklahoma that kids won’t have to travel to play in.”
The OGA Junior Championship dates back to 1954. Celebrated champions include Labron Harris Jr., Mark Hayes, Joey Dills, David Edwards, Jeff McMillian, Brian Montgomery, brothers Craig and Chance Cozby, Talor Gooch, Hayden Wood, Austin Eckroat, and Quade Cummins.
Moore’s name is not on the list, although he reached the finals in 2010 only to lose to Ian Davis, who went on to an All-America career at Oklahoma State before playing professional golf for five years.
A girls division was added in 2013. Kaitlyn Milligan, now a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, won in 2016, followed by consecutive victories by Yujeong Son, of Norman, who has returned to her native South Korea to pursue a professional career.
“The OGA is very appreciative of what Taylor is doing and this will take the OGA Junior to the next level,” said OGA Executive Director Mark Felder. “We know he was very appreciative of what the OJGT and Morri Rose did for him in his junior career and this is just such a wonderful way to give back.”
The event will be known as the OGA Junior Boys and Girls Championship Hosted by Taylor Moore. Part of his donation will assist with the costs of the event, which takes over a public course for a full four days. The other part will go toward the touches that will raise the experience for the participants.
Moore played out of Oak Tree National early in his professional career but has lived in Dallas the past two years and is one of many touring professionals who congregate at Maridoe Golf Club.
“The OJGT gave me an opportunity to play competitive golf,” Moore said. “Morri has done an awesome job. Not only me, but a lot of guys who have gone on to play in college or professional events owe a lot to Morri and what’s he done for the game. I just felt like this was an opportunity to get ahead of the game. Whatever happens with my career will happen, but my sponsors and I wanted to go ahead and do this now.”
“It really shows Taylor’s character for him to do this,” Rose said. “He’s always been one who wanted to give back and help the next generation.”
There is no official contract for how long the sponsorship will last, but Moore said it will certainly be for at least two-to-three years and then all three parties would reevaluate and adjust from there.