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He has come a long way since the painful injury to his left wrist that almost derailed his professional career. "It started hurting when I turned pro, so it wasn't exactly the timing I was hoping for," Moore says. "That was my one chance to get on the PGA Tour right out of college. I simply wasn't going to let a little bit of pain stop me."
Moore played through the pain, figuring it was due to overexertion. He took a break from golf in the winter of 2005, but when he started his rookie year, the pain intensified. Doctors thought it was tendinitis and prescribed rest. At the Honda Classic in March 2006 he happened to be paired with Mark O'Meara, who had suffered from the same affliction. The following week O'Meara invited Moore to his doctor's house. Sure enough, Moore's left hamate bone was fractured. A week later it was removed.
Even after the surgery doctors told Moore that it would be a year or more before he could hit a golf ball without experiencing pain. But they also told him that he couldn't do any more damage to the wrist by playing, and that the only harm might be to his psyche. Faced with the prospect of sitting out an entire season, Moore decided that he could deal with the discomfort.
Eight weeks after the procedure he started competing again, but the pain was excruciating. "It started hurting worse and getting more difficult [to play]," he says. "The second week back I had to withdraw from a tournament for the first time in my life because [the wrist] hurt so bad." In an attempt to alleviate the pain, Moore made adjustments to his swing and soon lost confidence in his game. "Being a little young and anxious, I wanted to come back quicker," he says. "In hindsight I should've waited."
But the '06 season was not a complete loss. In July, Moore rebounded with a tie for second at the Buick Championship, had three more top 10s and finished 81st on the money list with more than $1.1 million in 22 starts. He had a runner-up finish in each of the next two seasons, and finally broke through last August at the Wyndham, beating Kevin Stadler in a playoff. For the year Moore had six top 10s and won more than $2.2 million.
Until recently Moore had never taken a lesson from a swing coach. His dad, who ran a driving range while Ryan was growing up, had always taught him to keep things simple, the way golf is meant to be played. Last fall Moore finally brought on a coach, if you can call him that. Troy Denton also happens to be Moore's best friend, and he is amused by his new job title, since Denton has been helping Moore with his swing since 2002, when they were freshmen at UNLV. "We talk golf, how it works; just how we do with life," says Denton.
"Most guys go to big names for their swing methods," says Jason. "Ryan didn't want to change his game for someone else's swing theory so he could become another clone of theirs. He wanted someone like Troy, who knows his swing, has watched him play forever and won't say you need to swing like Tiger."
After Moore won the Wyndham, he turned down a ride on the sponsor's private jet to the following week's event, disproving the conventional wisdom that all young Tour pros crave G5s. Moore, ever modest, instead chose to savor his long-awaited win with Solomon and Rastouski at a quiet steak house in Greensboro. "I'm a creature of comfort," Moore says.
The golf world might as well get used to it.
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