It could be a familiar script playing out in the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes this weekend.
We’ve seen this before, whether it’s Will Zalatoris or Nelson Ledesma using a TPC Colorado win to become a regular on the PGA Tour.
Tying a course record was a great start, but that was Thursday. Taylor Moore wants to join that company come Sunday.
Moore followed up his record-tying 9-under 63 Thursday with a solid 2-under 70 in Friday’s second round, and he entered the final 36 holes two shots off the pace.
It sets up something far more important than a course record: a prime shot at the championship and, for all intents and purposes, his PGA Tour card for the 2021-22 season.
Moore will be among the final groups this weekend, and there’s plenty at stake for the relative Korn Ferry Tour veteran.
In one sense, the University of Arkansas product would be an out-of-nowhere victor, given that he’s winless in 93 Korn Ferry Tour starts dating back to 2017.
But Moore’s story really begins this past offseason. Coming off an injury in 2019 plus the COVID-19 pandemic and some accompanying poor play in 2020, Moore was by his own admission in “a rough spot.”
He didn’t look exclusively toward a swing fix or fixate on his physical form. Instead, he turned inward, hiring a mental health coach between the end of the 2020 season and the 2020-21 campaign.
The results have been clear: Moore is one of the Korn Ferry Tour’s most consistent players in 2021.
Entering the season, he had four career top-5 finishes on the tour. Moore has matched that already this season and added three more top 10s to sit 21st in the current Korn Ferry Tour standings.
“Obviously, it’s been a great year,” Moore said. “I hired a mental performance coach and that’s been great for me on and off the golf course. So I’d say most of (the improvement) has been mental, but you still have to hit it well.”
And he is this week in Berthoud, as the 63 was his career-best at this level. That included a blistering 29 on the front nine at TPC Colorado, racing up the leaderboard with five birdies and an eagle to hold the 18-hole lead.
Friday afternoon, he started slow but kept pace with a late birdie after sticking it close on No. 16. He followed that with some steely par saves on Nos. 17 and 18.
“It’s a little bit trickier in the afternoon once the wind picks up,” Moore said. “Honestly, I’ve been very pleased with how I’ve played, and I’m in a really good spot obviously to be there (Sunday).”
Those breezy, baked afternoon conditions will be omnipresent, as the final groups tee off around 2 p.m. local time on Saturday and Sunday. Though players and fans may get a break from the worst of the heat after a pair of 95-plus degree days should give way to highs in the upper 80s this weekend.
And what a weekend it sets up to be for Moore, a microcosm of most players’ hopes and dreams on the Korn Ferry Tour.
He’s currently ranked 21st in the 2021 season rankings, and the top 25 at season’s end automatically earn that coveted PGA Tour card.
What would a win this week do for Moore? It would vault him above 1,700 points in the points race, pushing him past the tour’s current “fail-safe number” and all but assuring him a top 25 finish for the season.
“We’re all aware of it when we tee it up each week,” Moore said of his place in the standings. “I try to embrace it, there’s no reason to look the other way on it. I’m just trying not to get ahead of myself, which I have done in the past and learned a lot from.”
And zoom out even more here. Moore was 689th in the world at the end of 2020. Now, he’s already up to No. 234. A win would move him solidly into the top 200.
Remember Zalatoris and Ledesma, this event’s first two winners? Zalatoris’ win last year moved him from No. 272 to No. 172. Ledesma’s took him from outside the top 350 to No. 221 and boosted him toward regular PGA Tour appearances.
Zalatoris is currently No. 30 in the world and has been consistent on the big stage since his July 2020 triumph here, finishing in the top 10 at three major championships. Oh yeah, that included a runner-up finish in April at The Masters.
So the springboard is locked and loaded for a player like Moore to take off.
“After my start, I’d obviously love to hold that trophy,” Moore said. “But that comes from taking care of myself and what I can control.
“If I take care of that, I like my chances on Sunday.”
Chris Abshire is the sports and stats content coach at the Coloradoan. Contact him at [email protected] Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.