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A perfect homecoming: UNLV grad Ryan Moore wins Timberlake Shriners Open

Moore sets a slew of records in winning his second PGA Tour event

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Steve Marcus

Former UNLV golfer Ryan Moore poses with his trophy after winning the 2012 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012.

Updated Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 | 7:32 p.m.

Moore Wins Justin Timberlake Shriners Open

Former UNLV golfer Ryan Moore celebrates on the 18th green after sinking his putt to win the 2012 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. Launch slideshow »

An inordinate amount of time passed before Ryan Moore was able to walk off of the 18th green at TPC Summerlin Sunday afternoon.

After the UNLV graduate won the 2012 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals For Children Open by one stroke, he had a gallery of nearly 40 close friends and family waiting to greet him. The scene was unlike anything the 29-year old had experienced before, including his only other PGA Tour win three years ago in Greensboro, N.C., where he had no one to celebrate with.

“I had to take a lot more pictures, I can tell you that for sure,” Moore said with a grin. “Everyone had their phone out and ‘oh, one more, one more.”

For Moore, it was the perfect homecoming. A week after being inducted into the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame, he further established himself as the area’s most accomplished professional by outlasting Brendon de Jonge.

Moore made history in a handful of areas at TPC Summerlin. They include:

• His total score of 260 strokes, 24-under par, set the tournament record. He also tied the course record with a 10-under 61 on the first day of play.

• He was the first golfer to prove victorious in the event after leading at the end of the first round. Moore finished the tournament in exactly the same position he was after the first day — one stroke ahead of de Jonge.

• He became only the second golfer with local ties to win Las Vegas’ PGA Tour stop in its 30-year history. No local had won the event until Kevin Na prevailed a year ago.

• Moore was also the first pre-tournament favorite to win the event since it switched to its current 72-hole format earlier this decade. The LVH Superbook listed Moore as a 12-to-1 favorite to win before play began.

“It means a lot,” Moore said of the accomplishments. “I’ve been close a lot of times and seen some pretty ridiculous putts on me get up and down from a lot of places to hold me off. It was nice to get on the other side of that today.”

Moore, who started the fourth round Sunday even with de Jonge and Jonas Blixt at 19-under, never trailed.

He jumped out to an early two-stroke lead over both opponents with birdies on four of the first seven holes. Blixt never made a run and finished at 1-under for the day, but de Jonge recovered to make birdie on the par-3 eighth where Moore posted a bogey.

The two matched each other shot for shot for the next seven holes, giving the large contingent following Moore and chanting “Rebels” plenty of excitement. Then came the fateful par-5 16th hole.

It was perhaps the lone spot Moore had struggled in the opening three rounds this week. Two of his three tee shots had gone in the bunker. The other landed in the rough under a tree.

Despite his reservations and plans to the contrary, Moore stuck with his driver over switching to a 3-wood on the hole Sunday. He ripped the ball 294 yards down the middle of the fairway, setting himself up for a putt that he tapped in for birdie.

De Jonge’s drive landed right next to a tree in the rough, which forced him to chip onto the fairway. The 2012 PGA Tour’s leader in birdies saved par, but missed a 30-foot putt to keep up with Moore.

“Unfortunately, I hit a poor tee shot,” de Jonge said. “That was definitely the turning point for me. It’s disappointing, but I’ll get over it pretty quickly.”

De Jonge couldn’t make up the stroke on either of the final two holes. The six-year veteran will continue to seek his first PGA Tour victory.

Moore can sympathize. After graduating from UNLV as a four-time All-American in 2005, many tabbed him for more immediate victories.

But Moore is hitting his stride now, finishing his 2012 season by placing in the top-10 in four straight tournaments. The $810,000 he won at the Timberlake Shriners Open put him 25th on the money list, which clinches an invite to the 2013 Masters if he stays in the top 30.

The victory also scores Moore automatic invites into several other high profile tournaments, including the PGA Championship.

He’s ready to relax for now and deal with another life-changing event before thinking about golf.

His wife, Nichole, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child — a son — on Halloween.

“I’m a multiple-winner on tour now,” Moore said. “I think that’s huge for me and my career going forward. I’m excited for this offseason and having my baby.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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