Ryan Moore of Puyallup, Wash., won the U.S. Amateur Public Links for the second time, becoming the eighth multiple winner, at the 2004 Championship Saturday at Rush Creek Golf Club.
Moore, 21, who also won the title in 2002, defeated Dayton Rose, 21, of Midwest City, Okla., 6 and 5 in the 36-hole final. Rose, the runner-up at the Public Links in 2003, was the first player to reach the final in consecutive years since Michael Combs in 1990 and 1991.
“I don't know where to start,” said Moore of his second title. “To have won it once is great. The second time, that's just amazing. Just to be part of any USGA championship is a lot of fun, let alone to win. That just makes it more special.”
The last player to win at least two Public Links championships was David Berganio, the 1991 and 1993 titlist. Carl Kaufmann, the champion in 1927, 1928 and 1929, is the only three-time winner.
Moore, who won the 2004 NCAA individual title, played in his third USGA final. He was also the runner-up at the 2000 Junior Amateur. He will be a senior at UNLV in the fall.
“He's got the best game in the world, as far as I'm concerned, for an amateur,” Rose said of Moore. “He's got everything covered. He hits the ball straight, he hits the ball long. His iron shots are precise. It seemed like every time he had it 10-12 feet on the green, it was automatic.”
The only time Moore trailed in any of his six match play matches (105 holes) was in his 2-and-1 victory over Andrew Price in the first round.
After finding a key in his putting stroke on Tuesday night while practicing, Moore only improved his chances.
“We kind of found something that felt good,” said Moore. “I went with it. It worked the rest of the week. I felt like I was going to make every 15-to-25 footer I had. I think the putter really creates momentum and creates the control of the matches.”
In the final, Moore had five birdies and two bogeys while taking a 5-up lead after the morning 18. He won holes 13 and 14 to take a 5-up lead but Rose, a rising senior at Oklahoma State, birdied the 15th to reduce the lead. On 18, Rose hit two balls in the hazard to lose the hole and give Moore his halfway edge.
“I didn't hit it as straight as I needed to,” said Rose. “When Ryan made a mistake, I made a mistake on the same hole so that led to a halve.”
In the afternoon 18, Rose won the 19th hole with a birdie to reduce Moore's edge to 4 up. However, Moore responded by winning the next two holes with an eagle and a birdie, respectively, to go ahead 6 up. His lead moved to 7 up with a birdie on the 26 th hole (par-5, 8th). He lost the next hole with a bogey but halved the 31st hole for the victory.
With Moore facing Rose, it marked the second time in Public Links history that the final pairing included players who had previously advanced to the championship match. William Serrick lost in 1925 and Carl Kauffmann lost in 1926 before the two faced each other in 1927, with Kauffmann winning on the 37th hole.
Of the three players who have won both titles, Moore became the first player to win the Public Links and the NCAAs in the same calendar year. The others are Warren Schutte (UNLV, 1991 NCAA and 1992 Public Links) and R.H. Sike (Arkansas, 1961 and 1962 Public Links and 1963 NCAA).
In the semifinals, Moore defeated Sunghoon Kang, 7 and 6, and Rose beat Evan Frederick of Destin, Fla., 3 and 1.
All quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2005 APL at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio. The finalists are also exempt for the 2004 U.S. Amateur in August.
The champion receives a gold medal and custody, for the ensuing year, of the James D. Standish Jr Cup, an exemption into the 2004 U.S. Amateur and, historically, an invitation to play at the next Masters Tournament, if still an amateur.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.