Coronavirus hasn’t completely canceled sports.
Former Arizona Wildcats golfer Haley Moore won a Cactus Tour event—and pocketed $2,500—in Sun City on Thursday, staying active on the links as the LPGA is on hiatus due to the pandemic.
Moore is in her first year as a professional after a wildly successful career at Arizona that included her sinking that famous five-foot putt to win a national championship in 2018, followed by a top-4 finish in 2019.
Moore earned her LPGA card for the 2020 season in November by finishing tied for 11th in the grueling Q-Series tournament, and made her LPGA debut in February at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia.
The coronavirus crisis has postponed the LPGA Tour until at least June, but Moore could play in more Cactus Tour events this spring assuming they aren’t canceled.
Until then, I caught up with her to discuss her pro career and her accomplishments at the UA. Here is the Q&A, which has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity:
Ryan Kelapire: What is the biggest difference between college and pro golf?
Haley Moore: “I would say it’s not as time consuming because college you have to balance school and golf. And I would say travel is definitely much more different. Most of the time we’re traveling week to week. We hardly have any breaks. And doing everything on your own, basically. Planning your travel, and then the next event, planning if you want to fly there or if it’s close to drive, you can drive. And even as rookie, I would say expenses is a huge thing too. Once you come out of college, you can play some events to get started and earn some money but pretty much you don’t really have any money that you didn’t have in college, so we basically have to go out there and just try and find a way to earn some money to get us started.”
RK: And what about the competition?
HM: “It’s still pretty competitive like college, just because now there’s money on the line. You could have this one putt and it could cost you, if you missed it, 25 grand. Or you can lose five grand if you missed it. Or if you make it, you earn more money. Basically you just kind of have to make every hole, every shot count for something.”
RK: When you step up to take those big shots, how do you keep yourself composed?
HM: “I just take a deep breath and visualize the putt. Like where do I see this breaking? What kind of speed do I have to hit it? And I just visualize what I feel, and if I feel that it’s right, and it goes in, then it goes in. But if doesn’t, I just move on just because I know I have other holes to make up for it. Or if it was on the last hole and I ended up missing it, I just learn from it and move on to the next event.”
RK: Is getting your LPGA card something you dreamed of or always expected to do?
HM: “Yeah, it’s been a dream since I started college. I wanted to graduate and enjoy four years at U of A and just get experience to help me get ready for the pro tour. And to start at stage one and get all the way to final stage, and then get my card right away, that’s pretty hard to do, so it was pretty cool. I got to play at one (LPGA) event so far, so hopefully in June we can get started and I can start experiencing it more and learn new things every day while I’m out there.”
RK: When you look back at the national championship season, what sticks out to you?
HM: “Individually, having confidence that I can do anything, and it was all about teamwork. When we all work together and agree on the same thing on and off the golf course, then we’ll have success together, and that’s what I saw with nationals. Our teamwork was spot on that whole week.”
RK: What was it like to make the putt to clinch the title?
HM: “I think it was just a jump of joy and something that I really wanted to do at the U of A. I wanted to compete for a national championship, and to win one. And for us to do both at the caliber of a program that U of A is for golf and all the sports as well was very special. And seeing all my coaches, teammates and the athletic staff from U of A come to see it and watch it, they were all happy. I’ve always wanted to be a part of that...and for me individually to make the putt and clinch it for our team was more special just because they all had faith in me when i went up to the extra hole.”
RK: What do you want your legacy to be at Arizona?
HM: “I would say just as the person that never gives up. Just always stick together with your teammates. Sometimes we’re not going to have our best stuff every match that we have, and so as long as we stick together and trust the processes of our game that we’re working on, it’ll all come together and click at one time.
“We had a team retreat before our spring season, and we basically created a team quote, and we all came up with it. And I think this really did help us. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And that pretty much blended us together really well because we wanted to go far together and we wanted to get all the way to what our huge goal was, which was to make the finals for nationals. And we couldn’t have done it individually. We had to do it together as a team.”
RK: You’ve had to overcome bullying to get where you are now, so what do you want someone to learn from that?
HM: “Don’t let the bullies or don’t let anyone judge who you are. You are yourself for a reason. I mean, no one’s gonna have the perfect body or perfect life. There’s always gonna be something wrong. Just don’t let anyone drag you down or judge you by it. You just do you and achieve your goals and and achieve your dreams of where you want to be, and just go out there and do all that you can to do everything and just try to set aside all the distractions and everything that people say.”
RK: What makes Arizona coach Laura Ianello such a special coach?
HM: “She’s kind of like the mom. She was always looking out for us. And for her to have so much legacy of already being a coach for the team and actually winning a national championship when she was a (player, and having great pros that she recruited like Annika (Sorenstam), Lorena (Ochoa), Natalie (Gulbis) and others, you know she’s doing something right with the program. ... And I would say she was always there. She could tell when we were struggling with our game. She would always make sure nothing was going on off to the side, or if it was what she could do to help.”
RK: What is your favorite course that you’ve played?
HM: “I got to play Augusta National. And when I got to play in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, that’s when the course is in the best shape that it can ever be. And not many women get to be a part of that course. And it’s not just the course. When you start driving there you’re just like, ‘how can this 18-hole course...be in this area?’ And when you turn into Memorial Lane and see the entrance and the trees and roundabout, the green, and you start seeing all the clubhouses and everything, it’s just something pretty special. And then you walk out to the back and then you see Hole 18, Hole 1, Hole 9, number 10, it’s like, ‘wow, this is like a hidden treasure.’ It was just very special.
“And all the members are super nice and the chairman was just very greeting of us, and all those spectators who came to watch, they were just so happy to see all these amateurs women’s golfers playing and they hoped to see more in the future.”
RK: What’s next for you?
HM: “Now that we’re not getting started until June, I’m anxious to get back out there just because my No. 1 goal is to keep my card for this season (by finishing in the top 100) just because the (qualifying) school is very difficult. ... And then more down the road I hope I can get a win out there and then compete in the major championships, as there’s more money involved in that. And just become one of the good U.S. players just because a lot of the Korean and Asians players, they’re all really great players and to compete with them would be something pretty special.”
This article is part of an ongoing Q&A series that will highlight former UA student-athletes. The rest of the editions are linked below. If you are a former UA student-athlete and would like to participate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter at @RKelapire.