He’ll take any major victory, but winning this month’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay—in his own backyard—would be just fine with Seattle-area native Ryan Moore.
You grew up near Chambers Bay and are one of the few pros with a lot of rounds under your belt there. How many times have you been asked about it? More or less than a hundred?
[Laughs] I’m getting asked about it more and more. As we get closer to the tournament, I get a lot of questions from players about the area. “Hey, where should I stay? Is this place close enough?” I grew up right there, and I have a house that’s 10 minutes from the course. I guess I’ll be telling everybody where to go to eat and drink.
Any travel tips for the Seattle area?
There’s a nice waterfall close by in Tacoma and a good waterfront area in Seattle that’s 45 minutes from the course. There’s great Thai food in the area and some really good tarakihi.
What’s the vibe on Tour about Chambers Bay?
I had a charity event there for a few years. Bubba Watson played a couple of times with me, along with Aaron Baddeley and Ben Crane. A handful of guys have played it, but that’s about it. There’s not really anybody with a lot of experience, except for a few guys, so it’s a big unknown. For me it’s a bit of an unknown, too—even though I’ve played it about a dozen times—because of the time of year that the U.S. Open is played. People ask me how conditions are going to be. Well, weatherwise, the middle of June is not necessarily a nice time in the Seattle area.
So you’re saying we won’t be seeing 80- or 90-degree June temperatures?
No way. It can be nice. It’s just not warm yet. It’s a little early. That doesn’t mean it can’t be nice in the middle of June. It can. But most likely it will hover around 55, 60 degrees, overcast, with some rain that week—and potentially some wind, because you’re right on the water. If you get a whole dry month leading up to it, it could play firm and fast. But if we get rain in May, like we usually do, I don’t think it will be an extremely firm links course.
Do you feel a personal connection to this U.S. Open, being a local boy who made good?
Yes, it’s exciting for me personally. You don’t get to play a tournament in your backyard very often. I live in Las Vegas now, so I get one tournament each year where I live, but this is special. It’s a U.S. Open. To have a major come to an area where I grew up, am comfortable with, and know a ton a people—it’ll be fun. Very, very fun.
A lot of excellent players have emerged from the Pacific Northwest over the years, including you, Fred Couples and Kyle Stanley. Why is that? What is it about that region that produces good golfers?
I’ve thought about that. For one, it’s a mild climate where you can play almost year round. You get some snow, but not a lot. It stays in the 40s for most of the winter, and you’re not getting a ton of freezing weather. Also, growing up in the Northwest made me more efficient at practicing because I didn’t have nice weather all the time. I had to make the most of the good weather I had. If you grow up in Florida or Southern California, you’re spoiled. You don’t have to play in bad weather—you play in nice weather 90 percent of the time. Growing up in the Seattle area, you have to deal with those conditions. It toughens you up.
Do you feel more pressure this year because the U.S. Open is not only in your home state, it’s also a USGA event, and you’ve won a USGA event—the U.S. Amateur—before?
There are some butterflies, but it’s more excitement than anything. It’s not pressure, other than it being a U.S. Open. It’s a tough test of golf, with the best golfers in the world, and I think it’s fun, but I’ll feel very comfortable. And I’ll get to sleep in my own house.
How different is Chambers Bay in terms of style and strategy?
Very different. It’s a true links course, so it’s got fescue grass, wind coming off the water, all that good stuff. One subtle difference is that there’s more elevation change—about 70, 80 feet—than you see on links courses in the UK and Ireland. Guys will get tired. It’ll be interesting. It comes down to the conditions, and what they do with the grass and the green speeds. The greens will dictate how the course will play. A lot of players will love it, and a lot will hate it.
If you had to pick one major to win, would you choose Chambers Bay?
That would be a cool U.S. Open to win, for sure. It’s in my backyard, where I grew up. I want to win every tournament I play, but it would be special to win up there. Nothing like winning at home.