(February 13, 2017) -- In any sport it's hard enough for a freshman to follow the traditional student-athlete route and contribute immediately. However, what Arizona sophomore Haley Moore did last year and has continued to do this year is even more impressive.
One year ago Moore decided that she was going to graduate high school early and enroll at Arizona, joining the golf team for the 2016 spring semester. At the time Moore was just 17-years-old and she was joining an already talented and established team.
A lot to handle right? Apparently not for Haley Moore.
With now two semesters of competition under her belt, Moore has played in 11 events and in six of them she has recored top 10 finishes.
"I didn't really know much about the option to enroll early but my two coaches (at Arizona), Laura Ianello and Derek Radley were watching me in tournaments (during the summer of 2015) and they approached my mom (Michele) and they spoke about it together and when my mom mentioned it to me it sounded like a really good offer," Moore said.
That conversation put the wheels in motion and now here we are with the spring 2017 season just underway and Moore now firmly established as one of top players in the nation.
"It has been a blast here so far," said Moore who knew 30 minutes into her unofficial visit that Arizona was for her. "My expectations have been met perfectly. When I just saw all of the facilities that we have access too I just knew this place was perfect and it just felt like a second home."
Last spring Moore quickly became an impact player for the Wildcats making the lineup in the first event event she eligible for, the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge.
"Right when I came into qualifying I fit right in," Moore recalled. "I actually won our first qualifier for our first tournament so I knew that my game was at the level of the rest of the team."
Moore would end up going onto play in seven events during the spring finishing in the top 10 three times. Two of those finishes, a ninth place showing at the Pac-12 Championships and a runner-up finish in the individual portion of the NCAA Championships, came in two of the biggest events of Arizona's season.
Speaking of the NCAA's, those four days at Eugene Country Club are the added motivation for Moore and the rest of her Arizona teammates this year. Last year the Wildcats missed out on qualifying for match play by one-stroke and that near miss is the fuel that has stoked their fire this year.
"We have been looking back at it and we have been working really hard on what we could have done better," a determined sounding Moore said. "We have just about the same group of girls as we did last year so we know that we have a good chance."
Moore first put the golfing world at-large on notice in 2015 when she made the cut at the ANA Inspiration and finished 6 over in a tie for 67th.
"It was a dream come true," exclaimed Moore who recently sent in an application to the ANA Inspiration Tournament Committee in hopes of receiving a 2017 sponsor exemption.
"Coming down the stretch on Friday afternoon I was struggling and putting a lot of pressure on myself to make the cut. But after when I found out I was just relived and it has helped a lot in my college career."
To this day Moore's most memorable shot came in the second round of that ANA Inspiration as she was battling to make the cut. On the 18th hole Moore needed to thread an approach shot through three trees and then make a putt. "I pulled it off and was shaking when I hit it. I will never forget that shot," Moore told Nick Reeves of the Arizona Communication Services.
However, a career isn't defined by one shot but it can be defined by a victory in the U.S. Women's Amateur and this year the tournament is being held at San Diego Country Club, just 45 minutes from her hometown of Escondido, CA.
After missing the cut in last years U.S. Women's Amateur, Moore is hoping for a different outcome this time around, "I hope to be in contention and possibly to the finals and have my home crowd out there cheering me on," Moore said.
"It would mean a lot just cause I would have my whole family there and all of my supporters and they can see that I have been working hard to achieve a goal of being a U.S. Women's Amateur champion."
In just over a year with Arizona and throughout the entirety of her career Moore has shown the ability to shine when the lights get the brightest. Why should 2017 be any different?
-Arizona Athletics contributed to this story