TOLEDO, Ohio – Haley Moore’s Apple watch buzzed throughout her pro-am round on Tuesday at the Inverness Club. The LPGA had launched Moore’s story of overcoming childhood bullying on every one of its social media platforms that morning, and Moore’s wrist was feeling the love.
“My story is truly powerful,” she told the media after the round, “and I want to help every young girl and boy.”
When middle school bullies filled Haley’s backpack with water and threw it in the boys’ bathroom, ruining her favorite Justin Bieber book, Haley called home sobbing. Her mother, Michele, went down to the middle school and let administrators know that “enough was enough.”
“The school could handle this, or our family would,” Moore penned in a first-person essay for the LPGA. “Either way, the pattern of abuse of our daughter was going to end right then and there.”
Now a rookie on the LPGA, Moore is the latest subject of the tour’s Drive On series, a campaign launched last March aimed at highlighting the stories of grit, determination and inspiration on the women’s tour.
On Tuesday at the Marathon Classic, the second event of the tour’s restart and Moore’s third tournament as a rookie, the LPGA unveiled a 30-second video spot along with first-person accounts written by Moore and her mother.
“Being bigger, stronger and better than boys on the soccer field didn’t make me popular when I was a kid,” Haley wrote. “Continuing to grow didn’t put me in the popular girls’ club, either. Throughout my school years, I heard every taunt and laugh; I endured every insult and rejection. I tried to brush it off.”
Michele cried herself to sleep many nights, wishing that she could take away her daughter’s pain but also knowing that she couldn’t possibly protect Haley from all the ugliness in this world.
“Three words that we’ve kind of used throughout this process are dream, believe, achieve,” said Michele. “It doesn’t matter how different you are, everybody has a dream. You believe in it and then you go out and achieve it, and don’t let anybody stop you.”
Moore’s parents met as freshmen at Ohio State. Mom played tennis and dad was recruited as the short and long snapper for the football team. Moore’s father, Tom, grew up in Orrville, Ohio, which is situated about 2 ½ hours east of Toledo. Family members had planned to watch her compete at this week’s Marathon Classic, but players are only allowed one guest on the course.
Moore teed it up in 11 tournaments during the LPGA’s 166-day break, winning three times on the Cactus Tour. She closed out her latest victory with a 10-under 62 on a day when no other player in the field broke 70 at Troon North.
“She’s the real deal,” said fellow Arizona alum Alison Walshe. “She’s got a lot of talent.”
Haley stands at nearly 6-foot-2 and graduated from Arizona at age 20. As a junior, her teammates rushed to embrace her on the 18th green at the 2018 NCAA Championship, when she lifted the Wildcats to the national title by draining a 4-foot birdie putt on the 19th hole to defeated top-ranked Alabama.
It was a deeply emotional moment for the Moore family, and one that put the spotlight squarely on a player who felt left out for much of her life
She grinded through all three stages of LPGA Q-School last year to earn her card, relying on the kindness of friends and strangers to help cover costs. Nearly 300 donors raised more than $40,000 on GoFundMe to help get Haley to the LPGA and allow her to compete. Now she wants to start a foundation to help kids who’ve been bullied.
“Depending on the statistics you read,” Roberta Bowman, LPGA Chief Brand and Communications Officer, “thirty percent of young teens worldwide experience bullying.”
Despite Haley’s first season on tour being interrupted by a global pandemic, she’s enjoying her new job, noting that former top-ranked Americans Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr went out of their way to welcome her.
She’s ready to pay it forward.
“Just don’t let those cruel people who are telling you stuff, judge you,” said Moore. “Just go on and do what you want to do. If it’s playing golf or playing any sport that you want to do, just go out there and keep doing you. You’ll get looked at, but try to wipe it away from your mind and keep going.”