By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Charley Hoffman was among those sporting a belly putter last week during the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
But while he wouldn't say the experiment failed, Hoffman is going back to a traditional length this week at his hometown event, the Farmers Insurance Open.
Hoffman broke par in all three rounds in the desert last week but he missed the cut by a shot. His putting stats left something to be desired -- he used 92 over 54 holes -- but Hoffman said he was committed to giving the longer putter a try.
"I'm not saying that it would never happen again, because I think there are some definite positives to it," he said.
Conventional wisdom has held that the longer putter is particularly useful on putts inside 10 feet because your stroke is locked. For Hoffman, though, the belly worked better on the longer putts because it took away his "feel" on the short ones.
"Inside 10 feet I struggled, I guess, because just we call it
the art of putting, the feel, sort of how much to break and how
much to hit it," Hoffman said. "When you set up to a belly putter,
you're pretty much locked in the line that you're there. If you
don't have much feel and you've got your line perfect, it's great.
I guess it was an experiment. I guess I'm a guy that sort of gets
over it and sort of feels the putt in the hole. That's how I make
"So the two together didn't work. Not saying that if I can find a way to sort of blend those together ... the belly putter I think is an advantage. You're going to set up the same every time. You're going to put the ball in the same position, and there are some definite positives to a belly putter. But for me as of right now, it's not a right fit."
Hoffman said he didn't have any problem going back to the short putter this week. He used it on a rainy Monday during the pro-am he held to raise money for his foundation and in his practice rounds. The transition was seamless.
"I can feel the line and see the line with the short putter, because it's just what I'm used to," Hoffman said. "It actually helped me. My rhythm on the longer ones is better with the shorter putter now. ... Actually, it worked the way we thought it was going to work. Initially it was going to be a project just to practice with and we liked it so much. …
“Saying for how poorly I putted and only missing the cut by a shot, gives the fact how actually good I hit it last week. So I'm pretty excited."
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One of the tournaments within this week’s tournament is the Kodak Challenge, which resumes at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Bill Lunde leads the $1 million season-long race. Three strokes behind Lunde? Childhood friend Charley Hoffman.
Lunde and Hoffman grew up in San Diego together and have been friends since their days in So Cal. Of course when it comes to trying to win something, friendship gets shelved.
“We always root for each other, but when his name's on the scoreboard, I want to beat him more than anybody else,” Hoffman said. “I want to get up there and try to make a run.”
This week’s Kodak hole is the 560-yard par-5 16th at TPC Summerlin.
Hoffman is 22nd on the PGA TOUR in total eagles with nine, which he feels should give him an advantage over Lunde.
“It's definitely an eagleable hole,” Hoffman said. “I've done some research. [Lunde] hasn't made any eagles, so if I get an eagle and a couple more birdies, I can actually win the event.”
Lunde, however, has played a lot more holes than Hoffman in the Kodak Challenge, so that means Hoffman will almost certainly need to eagle the 16th this week to have any chance of catching Lunde. And if he does that could impact his decision-making for the rest of the Fall Series -- next week’s Frys.com Open also features a driveable par-4.
“I'm going to give him a run,” Hoffman said. “He already told me he'd never talk to me again if I beat him, and then I asked him if he promised. No, kidding.
“But no, it's all in good fun and we're all trying to win a million dollars here.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- Charley Hoffman will surely need another final round like the 62 he shot a year ago if he's to successfully defend his title at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
But at least the long-haired Californian got things moving in the right direction on an overcast Sunday with the 65 he shot at TPC Boston. Hoffman, who made up a four-stroke deficit to win here in 2010, moved to 5 under for the tournament in the process.
"Today, early in the morning the greens were pretty receptive and perfect so you had the ability to make some putts and hit some shots close," Hoffman said. "I assume if it clears up and the wind blows a little bit it's going to firm up in the afternoon and be a little bit tougher to get the ball close to the hole."
Hoffman, who made seven bogeys and just six birdies in the first two rounds, kept the mistakes to a minimum in the third. His putter was more cooperative, too, as he logged nine birdies, one bogey and one double bogey while using just 27 strokes on the green.
"The first two days I made absolutely no putts," Hoffman said. "... Obviously it's shown you can go pretty low out here. If you don't make any putts no matter how good you hit it, it's hard to shoot low. Today I made a few putts, missed a couple, but all in all made my fair share today which was nice. I definitely didn't do that the first two days."
Hoffman, who tied for second at the Valero Texas Open earlier this year, returned to TPC Boston ranked 33rd in the FedExCup. He climbed 16 spots last week after tying for 10th at The Barclays, his second top-10 of the season.
Another solid putting round and low number on Monday could boost
Hoffman, who finished fourth in last year's FedExCup thanks in
large part to his Deutsche Bank Championship win, into the
all-important top 30 with two weeks remaining in the Playoffs.
"That was definitely the biggest thing," Hoffman said of the turnaround on the greens. "I didn't hit the ball any better or drive it any different. It's just I made the birdie putts a I need to and a couple of par putts I needed to and the next thing you know it was 6 under."
NORTON, Mass. -- Thanks to his homemade wobble board, Charley Hoffman hopes his putting stroke has improved to the point that he can have another big week at TPC Boston.
Hoffman, the defending Deutsche Bank champion, has struggled on the greens this season. He enters this week ranked 133rd in Strokes Gained-Putting, the PGA TOUR's primary putting statistic. Hoffman got so frustrated with his putter at THE PLAYERS Championship in May that he snapped it in two after missing a short putt.
"Really unhappy" is how Hoffman views his putting this season.
But perhaps there's hope. He putted better last week in finishing tied for 10th at The Barclays, and he's back to using the wobble board -- which he built himself -- in hopes of stabilizing his setup.
Hoffman said he built the board a few years ago as an exercise tool after injuring his ankle. On his artificial putting green at home, he then started hitting some putts on it and had a revelation.
"I go, 'Wow, this gets me in position that I like,'" he said.
Hoffman said he had gone to Home Depot, got a piece of plywood, measured the width to the size of his feet and the length to the size of his stance.
"It's pretty simple," he added. "It's got like a little stick underneath it that was supposed to hold up a sign or something you put in your yard."
Hoffman continued to use the wobble board last year but got away from it this year and "sort of got off my groove," he said.
So now he's taking it with him on the road and has been using it on the practice greens this week at TPC Boston, where he won last year after shooting 62 in the final round.
"I rarely bring it on the road because I usually feel pretty good on the weeks off that I practice at home with it," he said. "But I felt this was a good time to bring it on the road and make sure I was in the right spot for the Playoffs, and I think we're definitely back on the right track."
In the four years of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, there haven't been many rounds better than Charley Hoffman's closing 62 to win the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship.
No one else shot better than 65 that Monday at TPC Boston. Only four players in the field shot 67 or better.
How good was his 62? It enabled him to win by five. Tom Gillis finished with rounds of 65-65 ... and still ended up six shots back.
'All of a sudden, I went from just trying to make it to the next FedExCup event to winning and having a chance to win [the FedExCup,]," Hoffman said. "It was just really special against that sort of field and the quality of golf course that I was able to pull away and close the way I did.
"It gave me a lot of confidence going into this year."
Understandably, Hoffman is in a hurry to get back.
"I really didn't miss a shot [in that final round]," Hoffman said. "I'm excited to get back to Boston. Last year, my instructor Shawn Callahan came out after the first round, and I didn't feel like I was hitting the ball that great, and he gave me a couple tips to go through on the weekend and Monday that kept me going."
Hoffman has more reason to be ready this week. He's in even better shape this year than in 2010. He's a solid 33rd in FedExCup points after tying for 10th at The Barclays. He's finally healthy, too: A stomach bug affected his play in late July, and his putter hasn't cooperated. He ranks just 133rd in Strokes Gained - Putting, but he putted much better last week at Plainfield.
"Hitting the golf ball really hasn't been a problem," Hoffman said. "That's why I was watching some of the video from last year during Deutsche Bank. I played really well. Hopefully, I can get on another hot run."
EDISON, N.J. – Vijay Singh hasn’t won since the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2008, which is a span of 67 PGA TOUR events.
That year is significant, too, since that was the season the big Fijian won the first two events of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and went on to earn the $10 million prize.
Singh is back at The Barclays with a chance to win the tournament for the second time since it became a Playoffs event -- and the fourth time overall -- after firing a 64 on Friday at Plainfield Country Club. He’s 13 under and tied with Dustin Johnson, one stroke behind defending champion Matt Kuchar.
Charley Hoffman, who also has some Playoffs history, has joined a big group in double figures. He just drove the green at the 18 th hole and two-putted from 49 feet for his final birdie in a round of 66 that left him 10 under for the tournament.
Hoffman will defend his title at the Deutsche Bank Championship next week.
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.