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Sunday, October 27, 2013
Ryan Moore climbing after CIMB win

By Farrell Evans
ESPN.com

With a victory at CIMB Classic in Malaysia, Ryan Moore is finally showing the promise that we saw when he turned pro in 2005 after one of the most decorated amateur careers in the history of the game. Phil Mickelson was at the CIMB with Moore, but his mind was mostly on the U.S. Open. Yet early swing problems forced Lefty to focus on playing the tournament.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Pettersen earned her fourth win of the year, putting a spotlight on the dominance of a few women on a depth-challenged LPGA Tour.

Ryan Moore
Ryan Moore's third PGA Tour victory came in a Monday playoff triumph over Gary Woodland at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

One player at the start of his career, Luke Guthrie, and the other near the end of his but still fighting, John Daly, were in Shanghai for the BMW Masters.

1. Moore wins?
It's unlikely that Ryan Moore will, in his pro career, equal or surpasses the success he had during an amateur run that included wins in 2004 at the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links and the NCAA individual champion.

But after taking his third career victory in a Monday playoff at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, the 30-year-old Tacoma, Wash., native could be on track to finally enter the elite echelon of the game.

After seemingly coasting his way through his first eight years on tour, Moore has fully embraced some of the aspects of the best players in the world.

Never one to tout his practice habits, he speaks openly now of working hard on his swing with Dallas instructor Troy Denton. He also has been working with a trainer to get in better shape.

The CIMB wins marks Moore's second triumph in the last 12 months. Last week, he had a tie for ninth in Las Vegas, a year after winning the event with 72-hole record for the tournament.

The former UNLV All-American has only two top-10s and 15 made cuts in 23 majors. He always had the game to compete in these events. Now that he's healthy after battling a smattering of injuries and also completely engaged in being one of the top players in the game, there are no limits to what he could do in the next few years.

2. Open minded
At the CIMB Classic, where he finished in tk-place, Phil Mickelson said after a 1-under 71 in his first round that he could not remember the last time his swing was in such poor condition.

"The path of the club is too inside, then it's vertical, the head's moving, my legs are loose. It's terrible -- but I'm putting OK," he said on Thursday.

The five-time major winner noted earlier in the week that he would be putting most of his focus in the years to come on winning the U.S. Open.

The 43-year-old, 42-time winner has not been shy about his urgency and desire to complete the career Grand Slam. He plans to cut a certain percentage of his events from his schedule, beginning in 2014.

After more than 20 years on tour, Mickelson knows what he's doing, but could he be placing too much emphasis on winning the U.S. Open at the expense of his overall game?

Having the intense focus is fine for an important task of winning such a demanding event, but Mickelson has had a great record in the U.S. Open.

Why change what doesn't need fixing?

Mickelson needs to continue working hard on his swing and gain more control over his misses. He's still the most creative player in the game and can get to No.1 in the world, one of the few things that has eluded him in his Hall of Fame career.

It's too soon for him to concentrate most of his energies on one tournament. There could be more green jackets and Claret Jugs in his future. He should keep an open mind about the next few years and focus on being the best player he can be, regardless of whether it's the Humana Challenge or the U.S. Open.

3. Daly reminders
John Daly returned to competitive golf on Thursday at the BMW Masters in Shanghai after three-month layoff due to surgery on his right elbow. He had a 68 in the first round -- good enough for second place -- but stumbled to a tie for 48th with rounds of 74, 78 and 73.

John Daly
The always interesting John Daly, in his first start since July, sat in second place after 18 holes at the BMW Masters in China. Granted, he finished in the middle of the pack this week, but he showed that flashes of brilliance remain possible.

The 47-year-old, two-time major champion was as usual colorfully dressed and a little heavier than in recent years after drinking a lot of chocolate milk to regain strength over the break.

Daly has had more personal reinventions than the six times he's won worldwide since breaking through with an unprecedented display of power at the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick. Injuries over the past several years have hampered his game, but he still shows up to play with the outsized personality and the longest swing in the game.

Every time he appears at an event is a reminder of his singular talent and what could have been had he made different decisions in his life. Still, he's one of the biggest headliners in the game. With him the questions always arises: What will he do next?

For good or bad, Big John is always entertaining.

4. Young, gifted and slow
Luke Guthrie, a 23-year-old former Illinois star, will likely have a good PGA Tour career, but its progress could be slowed by his very deliberate pace of play that drew the ire of some players and fans this week at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, China.

In March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Guthrie was fined for slow play. It never came to that in Shanghai, but complaints about his pace did come to the attention of European Tour rules chief, John Paramor, the same man who assessed 14-year-old Guan Tianlang a 1-shot penalty for slow play during the second round of the Masters in April.

Paramor determined that Guthrie's group was never out of position in Saturday's third round.

"I have a tendency to play a touch slow, especially when I make a bogey or two and kind of I'm kind of working on that a little bit," Guthrie said Saturday. But I'm just trying to, I don't want to hit a shot until I'm completely ready, and tomorrow I'll make it a goal to be a little more decisive, for sure."

In Shanghai, Guthrie had a share of the lead going into the final round on Sunday before finishing fourth. This performance comes a week after a tie for fifth in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He is clearly playing well and confident in his game. Now while he's still young and not too set in his ways on the PGA Tour, he should learn how to play faster if he truly wants to be great.

5. The three tops
On Sunday, Suzann Pettersen won her fourth event on the LPGA Tour in 2013 with a 5-shot win over Azahara Munoz in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship.

Pettersen and Inbee Park, who has six wins on the season, have won a combined 10 of the 25 events that have been played on the top women's tour this year. Throw in Stacey Lewis, who has three wins in 2013, including the Women's British Open, and you have had three women essentially dominate the tour. Park won three of the five majors. Pettersen took the Evian Championship in September, which was in its first year as a major.

Ultimately, the women's game needs depth as much as it needs sponsorship dollars. Pettersen, Park and Lewis are all great players, but three players shouldn't account for more than half the wins on the tour and all five of the majors.

Rivalries are good for the game and one among these players could be exciting. But wouldn't it be great if there were 50 women on tour who could play consistently at the level of these three women?

Hopefully, that time is not far off.