By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
EDISON, N.J. -- Charley Hoffman used the week before The Barclays to get back to basics -- particularly in regards to his putting stroke.
Working with his former UNLV coach Dwaine Knight, Hoffman said he "went simple" in trying to correct an erratic putter, which has hampered him in a frustrating year in which he has just one top-10 finish.
Perhaps he found something. Thanks in part to a stretch of six consecutive one-putt holes, Hoffman shot a 5-under 66 in Thursday's first round at Plainfield Country Club. That left him just two shots off the lead held by Harrison Frazar.
Here's all you need to know about how effective Hoffman was with his putter in the first round: He ranked first among all morning wave finishers in Strokes Gained-Putting. Coming into this week, Hoffman ranked 143rd in that category for the year.
"Putter's the main thing I haven't really had this year and what I've always been very good at is putting," he said. "But I haven't made those 10-12 footers to keep your round going or get your round going."
On Thursday, he made five putts between 10-20 feet, including one from 18 feet, 7 inches at the par-4 ninth. That was one of eight birdies Hoffman posted in the first round.
Hoffman also has a new putter, although he said it is similar to the Titleist Red X that he uses.
For Hoffman, who ranks 49th in FedExCup points, his improvement on the greens couldn't come at a better time. He'll enter next week's Deutsche Bank Championship as the defending champ, and would love nothing more than to post a second straight win at TPC Boston to boost his chances of winning the FedExCup.
He just needs that simple flatstick to keep working.
Scott discusses his opening-round 66.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
EDISON, N.J. -- Adam Scott only made one par over his first nine holes on Thursday at Plainfield Country Club.
Luckily for the Aussie, he also made six birdies and an eagle to offset his two bogeys, and Scott went on to turn in 31. Granted, he cooled off after the rain delay -- missing an 11-footer for birdie at No. 1 when he returned and playing the front in even par -- but Scott's still in the hunt after opening with a 66.
The round of 5 under left Scott, who won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational last month, just two shots off the lead held by Harrison Frazar. He's tied with Jonathan Byrd and Charley Hoffman, who will defend his Deutsche Bank Championship next week.
"Turned into a pretty long day today, but it's a good start," Scott said. "Five under around here, I'm surprised generally by how good the scoring is. But I guess with the little bit of rain it softened it back up, and I think the pins were quite accessible today. It would be interesting to see how the rest of the week pans out for a lot of reasons, but very happy to start this way."
Scott said the Donald Ross layout, which is hosting its first PGA TOUR event, had firmed up well after absorbing more than nine inches of rain last week. Thursday's deluge, though, was a killer and more rain -- in the form of Hurricane Irene -- is on the way.
"It was starting to play very nice and now it's gone soft again, so that's disappointing," said Scott, who entered the Playoffs ranked No. 13.
Scott said he simply didn't see very many birdie opportunities when he returned to finish his round. He hit one "loose" shot at the par-3 third hole and made his only bogey on the front but the biggest challenge was adjusting to the speed of the severe and sloping greens.
"It was just tough today, because they changed pace obviously after the rain, and I even think this morning, they were not as fast as maybe the practice round or the pro-am," Scott said. "So it took a bit of adjusting to that. But then also, adjust again once it rained and slowed down. So it was more the variance in pace that made them a little tricky today."
Forced to visit the hospital last Friday due to stomach pains, Charley Hoffman remains hopeful that he'll be able to play in this week's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Hoffman canceled his flight from his Las Vegas home to Akron, Ohio, on Monday morning because he was having lingering pains in his stomach. He hopes antibiotics from a doctor will work fast enough that he can make a flight on Tuesday, which would allow him enough practice time prior to Thursday's first round.
But if his health doesn't improve, there is a chance he may have to miss the tournament. Hoffman has made just one prior start at the WGC-Bridgestone, finishing tied for 22nd in 2007.
"If I'm not feeling good by Wednesday, probably not going to make the trip at all, just because the week after is the PGA and I want to feel healthy and good for that," Hoffman said during a conference call for media day at the Deutsche Bank Championship, of which he is the defending champion. "Hopefully I'm feeling good (Tuesday) and I'm on a plane out to Akron."
Hoffman, who currently ranks 45th in FedExCup points, said he began feeling ill last Thursday morning. He thought it was food poisoning that would go away in 24 hours, but when he still felt bad on Friday, he drove himself to the hospital "just to make sure there was nothing wrong with my organs or anything like that."
Doctors cleared him to leave the hospital, but he continues to have stomach pains that have prevented him from eating the last few days. He thinks it's a stomach flu that he's been unable to shake.
"If I'm not getting food in," he said, "it's going to be hard to go around the golf course for six hours and play at the highest level."
Hoffman hasn't had a chance to play much golf lately. During a recent houseboat vacation, he didn't touch a club for a week. After returning home, he got in only 1-1/2 days of practice in before getting sick.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Whatever slim chances Charley Hoffman had are now at the bottom of the pond surrounding the 17th green after he hit two balls in there to make a quadruple-bogey 7.
That took Hoffman, who was 10 under when he got to the hole, out of the tournament and dropped him to 6 under for the week.
That’s not the highest score of the week on the 17th hole, however. Edoardo Molinari made an 8 there in the second round.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The way Charley Hoffman saw it, he got the best of both worlds Saturday at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Hoffman came out after the rain delay and was able to take advantage of the more generous conditions at TPC Sawgrass with a string of three straight birdies. At the same time, he was able to finish off a round of 68 so he'll get to sleep in Sunday morning.
When he finished, Hoffman had moved to 5 under for the tournament and was within five strokes of the lead held by David Toms. At the same time, the leaders were just teeing off and Hoffman knew the Stadium Course was there for the taking.
"It's just soft," Hoffman said, "It hasn't been playing firm all week but it was starting to get a little firmer, but all the rain they had just softened it right back up. Birdies are out there and I am sure guys are going to make them.
"You've still got to hit fairways and stuff out there. But if you get your drive in the fairway you definitely have a good chance to make some birdies."
Hoffman was on the 12th green when the horn sounded to suspend play. He came back out and bogeyed his next two holes -- missing the green at the par-3 13th and three-putting No. 14 -- before erupting with the three straight birdies.
The first birdie putt came from 2 feet, 10 inches. Hoffman then got up and down from 45 feet left of the par-5 16th green, eventually sinking a 6-footer for the birdie. He also made a putt of 9 feet, 1 inch on the infamous island green for his third consecutive birdie.
Even though he couldn’t make it four-in-a-row at the 18th hole, it was still a confidence builder. Hoffman's drive strayed right but he was able to get up and down from in front of the green for his par.
"I was able to make three good birdies coming in and a good par save on the last which is always nice to go home with," Hoffman said. "So I'm happy with where I finished. Obviously would like to have not made those couple of bogeys but all in all pretty good."
Charley Hoffman came up one stroke short of forcing a playoff Sunday.
So what went wrong? Not much, save for probably one or two shots.
“I mis-clubbed a couple times, the wind in the wrong direction didn't help you when I thought it was helping,” Hoffman said. “All in all, the bogey on 14 sort of killed my round. If I hit the tee shot in the fairway I had a chance to go for it in two, ended up in the cactus and had a chance for par.
“That's all I had. That sort of slowed me down. Catch one there, you never know.”
Still, Hoffman did about all he could, shooting a final-round 68 ( click here to replay the round ) -- only one score was lower on Sunday.
He’ll also remember his ride in an Air Force jet earlier this week.
”The best part of my week was going up in the jet fighter on Tuesday and seeing what those guys do for a living,” Hoffman said. “It's amazing what these guys put their bodies through.”
Thanks to two birdies and an eagle, Charley Hoffman, who made the turn in 32, is just one stroke off the lead at TPC San Antonio.
The eagle for Hoffman came on the par-5 eighth, where he went over the green on his second shot before holing his chip shot from just off the green.
The other key to Hoffman’s success this week, of course, has been his putter. He leads the field in putting and continues to roll it well here in the final round with 13 putts through his first 10 holes.
Brandt Snedeker, Pat Perez, Charles Howell III, Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman and Rich Beem have all won on the PGA TOUR. Brendan Steele, Cameron Tringale and Kevin Chappell haven’t.
That’s the separation at the top of the leaderboard at TPC San Antonio, where Steele is in front by one at 7 under after a 68 Saturday.
The biggest difference between the second and third rounds was the wind. Friday it blew, Saturday, for the most part, it didn’t. That allowed for some good scoring, though it’s still somewhat crowded with eight players within four shots of Steele’s lead.
That of course includes the defending champion Scott, who is on a run of three straight finishes in the top 6, which includes of course his tie for second at the Masters last week.
So what will happen on Sunday?
The wind is expected to blow in the 25-mph range. That could mean more high scores -- and an advantage to Scott, an Aussie who of course is used to playing in the wind. Stay tuned.