Moore looking forward to first Masters and full major slate after Valspar victory
By Ken MacLeod
A first trip to The Masters, entry into all of the PGA Tour’s elevated events and a spot in all the major championships, not to mention a winner’s check worth more than $1.3 million, are some of what Taylor Moore earned with his first PGA Tour victory Sunday in the Valspar Championship.
Moore, the 29-year-old two-time state champion at Edmond Memorial who grew up playing at Kickingbird Golf Course and is a staunch supporter of junior golf in the state, said today the opportunities presented by the victory means more than the victory itself.
“I don’t really let outcomes validate whether I’m good enough to win out here,” Moore said. “I’ve been progressing nicely and been in the hunt. Winning is obviously awesome but I’m more excited for the access it gives me going forward.”
His next event will be his first Masters trip April 6-9 and he was looking forward to his first glimpse inside the gates of Augusta National.
“I’ll go down Saturday and play a practice round and I’m looking forward to it,” he said from his home in Dallas.
While NBC was focused on the final pairing of Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk, Moore won the event with an outstanding closing 10-hole stretch, shooting 4-under from the ninth hole to the 18th to move to 10-under overall. He was on the range just hoping to be in a playoff before Spieth bogeyed 16 and Schenk bogeyed 18. Suddenly he was a PGA Tour winner.
“Honestly, I thought I would be in a playoff or lose by one after I finished,” Moore said. “But I just wanted to give myself a chance. On 18, I had to hit that first putt so hard up the hill and then I had about 5 ½ feet left straight uphill. I was happy to get that one down in two. I was more pleased with how I handled the entire situation knowing what it meant.”
On the par-4 16th hole, the first of the three-hole “Snake Pit”, Moore tugged his drive left, but then found an opening to get his second shot on the green 25 feet right of the hole. He drained that one for one of the best birdies of his career. Then on the par-3 17th, he hit a beautiful bunker shot from 25 yards away to just a few feet for another clutch par.
“That’s just one of those shots we hit in practice,” Moore said. “I used a 54-degree wedge with a slightly open face and from there it’s all just feel and speed.”
Moore was ranked 57th in the FedEx Cup standings coming in, having played 15 events already in the wraparound 2022-23 schedule. The victory lifted him to $2,745,877 in earnings for this year and into the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings. He played 28 events in his rookie year, making 18 cuts and finishing 67th with four top-10s.
“I’ve become a better golf course manager, a better ball striker and just handled myself internally much better these past two years,” Moore said. “I think physically my game has progressed in all areas. A weakness of mine since coming out of Arkansas was the short game and putting, but I’ve put a lot of time and effort into that.”
Moore made 64 of 64 putts inside 7 feet at Valspar. That’s about as solid as it gets.
NOTE: With Edmond resident Rhein Gibson’s victory on the Korn Ferry Tour, former Oklahoma State golfer Charles Howell’s victory in the first LIV Golf event of the season and former Sooner Abraham Ancer’s win in the Saudi International, players with strong state ties have already won on four tours in 2023 as spring begins.