For golf impressionist Conor Moore, it doesn’t matter if you’re Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau or Gary Player. No one is off limits when it comes to being mimicked.
Fred Couples once said of Conor Moore that “if you close your eyes, you would think Ian Poulter is right next to you”. The likeness is uncanny and part of a wonderfully polished act, the kind which elicits a giggle every time you watch one of his many impersonations.
Moore’s ability to satirise some of the biggest names in golf and the world of sport has attracted a big following and resulted in his sketches registering more than 60 million views (and counting) on social media.
It is a mark of Moore’s likeability and reputation that he has performed for Jack Nicklaus and even spent time in the company of Tiger Woods. But, as he tells us now, the barbecues with Shane Lowry at Augusta and the driving tips from Rory McIlroy are a world away from just five years ago when people would happily put the phone down so they didn’t have to listen to what he had to say.
At the time Moore was working as a mobile phone salesman in his hometown of Mullingar, Ireland, having earlier given up a job as a door-to-door salesman. “That was a tough gig,” he laughs now. “You get a lot of abuse when you’re knocking on doors, looking for people to give you their money.”
Impersonating famous faces was merely a party trick back then, and it was only when he decided to share a sketch in a private WhatsApp group, impersonating local Gaelic footballers and celebrities, that he realised he might be in the wrong profession. Spurred on by his friends, he published the video online and it went semi-viral in Ireland.
Later that same week, Moore was approached by Joe.ie, an Irish website, which wanted him to produce a variety of sketch videos, imitating some of the biggest characters in sports and pop culture. There was just one problem. “They asked me to show them the rest of my portfolio and I had nothing,” admits Moore. “They realised I wasn’t any good, didn’t have any characters in my arsenal, and I didn’t get the job.”
WATCH: Conor Moore’s football impressions
The next day the Irishman quit his job selling phones and dedicated six months to impersonating as many people as he could. “I was putting out more Gaelic football content, but then I started doing impressions of soccer people, like Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and a few of the Premier League guys.” When Joe rang back four months later, they were so impressed by his backlog of characters they offered him a job as their in-house producer of sketches.
He stayed there for the next 18 months before deciding to go it alone and try different things, including golf, on his own YouTube channel. The big-money contract that arrived from the Golf Channel soon after would suggest that he made the right call, but it was never a given that he would be able to make a career out of his own comedy.
Back in November 2016, Moore decided to take the plunge into live stand-up. The venue was in New York and it was a disaster. He was barely halfway through his set when the audience starting booing and pelting him with ice cubes. Another gig five days later didn’t go much better and back in his dressing room he promised himself he would never get on stage again.
It would take more than 12 months until he went back on his word and decided to help out his father, Tom, who had just been elected captain of Mullingar Golf Club and wanted to make a good first impression.
“He asked me to do some gigs for the members, but I thought they’d get bored if I kept doing the same thing. I then came up with the idea of doing a golf one and impersonating people like Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods. I started practising around Christmas time and decided to put the video out around the time of the Masters.”
WATCH: Conor Moore’s Masters golf impressions
The two-minute sketch, featuring imitations of 11 golfers (plus Butch Harmon), went viral on the eve of the tournament and was even retweeted by Garcia and Niall Horan, a close family friend, to millions of followers. Within days he was flown to Orlando, where he was offered that job by the Golf Channel. Paddy Power, Sky Sports and the European Tour also came calling, while the BBC even got him on screen during the 2018 World Cup.
“It was such a crazy time. I certainly didn’t envisage what’s happened over the last three years. Being in with the Golf Channel has afforded me the opportunity to meet all these stars. I’ve done an ad with Tiger and a night with Rory McIlroy. I’ve got to know Shane (Lowry) quite well, so it’s been an incredible time. Sometimes I do have to pinch myself…”
Though Moore only took up golf properly three years ago, and now plays off 15, he’s fast becoming a household name in the sport. He performed a private gig for Ian Poulter, the one person he enjoys impersonating the most, before the first lockdown and now has his own comedy show, The Conor Moore Show, which airs on NBC’s Golf Channel and digitally on GolfPass.
“Initially I thought the idea of having my own show was a bit pie in the sky,” says Moore. “Just after New Year last year I flew out from Ireland and I was going to be filming for six months. It only really hit me when I walked into the Golf Channel and saw my name up on the wall of the studio.
“That was crazy, but then Covid hit. Everything got delayed for a couple of weeks and I genuinely thought I was going to be going home. But then they said they wanted me to film it all from my apartment. So for the first few episodes I was the one pressing record and hoping the sound levels were OK while the rest of the crew were watching what I was doing on Zoom.”
Despite the challenges being posed by the pandemic, the show was such a hit that it was renewed for a second season. So far it has featured exclusive interviews with Rory and Jack Nicklaus – and there’s more star power to come, too. “We’ve got Shane (Lowry) lined up as well,” he says, excitedly.
“I actually did an interview with Rory last week and I asked him what he thought and he said, ‘On a scale of one to 10, how much do I enjoy it? One. But how accurate is it? It’s like a 10… and that’s why I don’t enjoy it! It creeps me out’.”
The difficulty, as with any comedy series, is being able to stay relevant and funny, which is why Moore is so grateful to have a team of writers for the first time in his life.
He currently has a green screen set up in his living room, but it’s not uncommon for him to lock himself away in a room for several hours while repeating the same phrase or monologue over and over again in front of the mirror. He’s even been known to delete all the music off his phone, replacing it with interviews with golfers.
WATCH: Conor Moore’s Ryder Cup impressions
“Some people do take longer than others (to imitate). Tiger took me a long, long time. I gave up on Tiger at one point because I didn’t think I could do him. I had been trying for a good two months. I was going to leave him off until a few family members found out and told me to stop practising everybody else and just concentrate on Tiger.
“Ten days before the very first video, I just worked on Tiger. I was going to bed listening to him and walking to the shops listening to Tiger. Then one day I heard him say, ‘It’s pretty tough out there, I thought I played well’. When I got ‘tough’ and ‘well’ and realised his jaw doesn’t move much, it just clicked.
“Once you have it nailed, you don’t lose it. It was the same with Justin Rose, he was another guy I completely gave up on. Then my brother walked past my room when I was doing Roy Hodgson and he was like, ‘Are you doing Justin Rose?’ I was proper insulted, but then I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I can do Justin’.”
Moore’s impersonation of Tiger, dressed head to toe in his Sunday best, remains his most famous and caught the attention of Bridgestone Golf, who jumped at the chance to get the two of them on screen for a commercial back in 2019.
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“What a day! The first thing he said to me was, ‘Do me’. When he heard it he just went, ‘F**k, dude, that sounds so alike’. Any nerves were gone within about 30 seconds when I realised I was going to have a bit of a laugh and that’s how it turned out. It’s a day I will remember forever. He made me feel like a million dollars.”
WATCH: Conor Moore’s ad shoot with Tiger Woods
The perks are clearly plentiful and while Moore says he treats his profession like a regular job, he is clearly embracing his new life in America. In fact, he has just opened a pub on New York’s East 38th Street, right near Grand Central, called The Westbury, which has been given an Irish and golf-themed makeover.
He now spends a lot of his time travelling around the US doing corporate events for high-profile celebrities, including Michael Dell, founder of the computer giant. The most memorable, he reveals, was being invited to perform at The Bear’s Club last year at the request of Jack Nicklaus.
“That was so amazing. I actually met Jack for the first time at the 2019 Players Championship as Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, had asked me to do a gig in his back garden. Jack was there, so was Sergio, and I told Jack he caused a lot of trouble in my house growing up. My dad was such a big Jack fan and me and my brothers were big Tiger fans, so we would always argue about who’s the greatest. Jack asked what my dad’s name was (Tom) and I remember him saying that my dad was a very smart man…”
Two weeks after that meeting, Moore received a package in the post, containing a signed picture of him and Jack and a note which read, ‘To Tom, thanks for all your support. Jack Nicklaus.’
The love-in has continued ever since, so much so that when Moore was asked to perform at Nicklaus’s charity event, his father was invited and seated on the same table as the 18-time Major champion. “That went down really well,” says Moore. “And Jack, in fairness, can take a good slagging as well!”
For someone who once tossed his golf bag into the trees as a teenager, Moore has fallen in love with the sport – and vice versa. Ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup, European captain Thomas Bjorn asked him to prepare a 10-minute spoof, in the style of a faux press conference, which he could play at a team meeting.
All 12 players got the full treatment, plus Bjorn, and the 10-minute video was so well received that the players were still laughing and joking about it in their press conferences a day later. “Fran’s was just hilarious,” said Tommy Fleetwood a day later, referencing his Ryder Cup playing partner. “I think Fran’s has made me giggle for about 10 hours now. He was really good.”
WATCH: Team Europe’s reactions to Conor Moore’s impressions
It helps that he is now good friends with a lot of players on tour, but there is still a risk of rubbing people up the wrong way.
“Of course, it is a fine line because it’s never my intention to make anyone feel bad in any way,” he says. “I grew up watching Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers on UKTV Gold, so my comedy is that dark, sarcastic, taking the piss kind of humour. In America, it is a bit different so I’m still learning what the American audience might prefer and like.
“Some people are complete caricatures, but then you’ve got someone like DJ who gives me so much ammo to play with. One time when he was interviewed they asked him about it and he was like (in DJ’s voice), ‘Yeah, pretty good’. I’m taking that as a pretty big compliment.”
What the stars say about Conor Moore’s impressions
“I promise you I have listened to you a few times and I could swear that was me. You can call anyone and people would think it’s me on the phone, 100 percent.” Jose Mourinho
”I think that he does it pretty darn good. My delays that I have when I normally give an answer, he does that. He’s got all my ticks.” Tiger Woods
“It’s funny. He always does a great job, not only with myself, but with a lot of people. At the Ryder Cup, the whole team was laughing about some of the impressions he was doing and the laugh he puts on me.” Sergio Garcia
“On a scale of one to 10, how much do I enjoy it? One. But how accurate is it? It’s like a 10… and that’s why I don’t enjoy it! It creeps me out’.” Rory McIlroy
What is The Conor Moore show and how can I watch it?
A first-of-its-kind comedy series in which Conor Moore pokes fun at the biggest stories in golf with various impersonations, monologues, sketches, and interviews. New episodes of season two are available every week on Golf Pass, which is now available on Sky Q.
You can sign up for £4.99 a month or £49 a year. Each membership comes with a free, seven-day trial. Sign up at www.golfpass.co.uk