Friday, Aug. 20, 2004 | 9:33 a.m.
A three-shot deficit with five holes to play in the most prestigious event of the year couldn't faze the hottest amateur player in the country, could it?
"If it did, then I wouldn't have won," Ryan Moore said Thursday night.
Moore, a senior at UNLV, advanced to today's quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur at Winged Foot in New York, storming back to beat Australia's Aron Price, 1-up, in his second match of the day. Moore did not lead in the match until winning at No. 18, hitting a par putt on his 36th hole of the day while Price carded his third consecutive bogey to give away the lead.
"I'm exhausted, but it feels great," Moore said. "I was staring at going home right in the eye."
Moore was scheduled to face Jason Hartwick of Sacramento in a quarterfinal match this morning. A win would advance Moore to a semifinal Saturday. The 36-hole final take place Sunday. ESPN2 will televise action from the tournament each day.
Despite playing the front nine at 2-over, Moore fell two holes behind at the turn Thursday and bogeyed two of his first four holes on the back to fall three behind Price. He did not panic, though, as Moore's play during the past year -- in which he has won the NCAA championship and the U.S. Amateur Public Links -- has bred confidence to augment his naturally steely demeanor.
"I guess I've just learned how to deal with it," Moore said. "I have been playing good for a long time, so I don't worry about it as much."
Confidence meant that Moore did not gamble to win the tournament. He bogeyed the 15th and 17th holes, but Price posted a double bogey at the 14th hole before imploding down the stretch. As is the case in most USGA championships, par is a winning score and that is all Moore tried to accomplish under pressure.
"With a course like this, it's all about patience," Moore said. "It's a tough course."
Moore easily won his first match Thursday, beating Greg Peterson of Rochester, Minn., 6-and-4. Six birdies against just a pair of bogeys allowed Moore to quickly dispatch Peterson and to prepare for a long afternoon against Price, the ninth-rated amateur in the country.
Moore won the opening two days of medal play at the U.S. Amateur, posting the only sub-par total at 1-under and earning the top seed in the 64-man match play tournament. Golfweek's top-ranked amateur in the country, Moore is trying to become the first player to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Publinx in the same year.