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Sports Talk: Moore’s Masters makes others green with envy

When settling in to watch the Masters forgive Haley Moore if she offers four words: been there, done that.

Moore, a star at Arizona after being a standout at San Pasqual High School, has felt that iconic Masters course under her golf cleats. She tied for seventh in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, with Saturday’s last round being played at the Augusta National course.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Moore, an Escondido native. “It was like a dream come true.”

That Augusta extended an offer to the world’s top female amateurs is an odd vision as well. The club which has hosted the Masters since 1934 didn’t accept its first female member until 2012.

And before announcing the ANWA at last year’s Masters did it seem a likely spot for the women to match shots.

“I remember when I got my invitation and I was out of the country,” Moore said. “I had my mom sent me a picture of it.”

It was a big deal then and even more so with Moore shooting even par 72 over the 18 holes where the best men players will tee off starting on Thursday.

Moore felt honored to be among Saturday’s final-round field of 30, but there was more than golf and Georgia on her mind.

The 2014 CIF San Diego section player of the year saw large groups of girls lining the fairways and hugging the greens, looking at Moore as if peering into the future.

“There were all these young girls standing around, giving all the players high-fives and asking for autographs,” Moore said. “They were saying, ‘In five, 10 years I want to be playing here, too, making moments and making history.’ They were cheering us on but really everyone was really nice.”

Twice as nice was the women getting to play two rounds, with Friday’s practice session being memorable as well. 

“It’s just something that I never thought would happen and that’s to drive down Magnolia Lane and play at Augusta,” Moore said.

With every step around the hallowed grounds Moore thought of past winners and those indelible performances delivered by Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and others. 

“And really just for anyone winning at Augusta and to think what it must feel like for them to walk up to the green on No. 18 with everyone cheering,” Moore said. “That has to be a special moment.”

Moore knows the sensation even if her biggest winning putt didn’t come with a green jacket. It was Moore’s 5-footer for a birdie in a playoff last year which clinched the NCAA Women’s Golf title for the Wildcats.

Arizona starts the defense of its crown at this month’s Pac-12 Conference championships, with Moore expected again to have a leading role.

“We’ve talked about how special last year was and we basically have the same girls this year, so we can do it again,” Moore said. “This is the most important part of our season coming up and it would be amazing as a senior to go out with a bang.”

Soon Moore will be putting for bucks. She’ll turn pro after the collegiate season and is aiming for the LPGA Qualifying School in August to gain her card.

But whenever flipping over her hand of where’s she played golf, not many can eclipse her round at Augusta.

“It was part of history,” she said. “And I’m just grateful that I was part of it.

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