Morgan Hoffmann has three top-10s since mid-May on TOUR. (Guime/Getty Images)
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Morgan Hoffmann came to the John Deere Classic looking forward to a break next week after teeing it up for a seventh straight week.
After three Friday whacks into the hazard at TPC Deere Run’s 11th hole, his second of the day, produced a quadruple bogey 8, Hoffmann could have been forgiven for thinking about getting a two-day head start on his week away. He stood 3 over for the tournament.
Instead, the PGA TOUR rookie has gone 18 under on his ensuing 33 holes and, perhaps, has put himself in position to the brakes on that break.
“Definitely not taking it off then,” Hoffmann said of the British Open exemption that would come with a John Deere victory. “I will be on that flight.”
His seat on the John Deere-supplied charter to Scotland is far from booked. Hoffmann’s 8-under 63 on Saturday put him on the front page of the leaderboard early, but at 12 under for the tourney, he may need to go even lower to overcome a pack of players likely to end the third round ahead of him.
Low like 59? Well, it has been done at TPC Deere Run, of course. Hoffmann remembered watching Paul Goydos post that magic number in the 2010 opening round. And Hoffmann himself actually has matched that -- in a fashion this week. Pair the 29 Hoffman shot on the Deere Run frontside Friday with the 30 he turned with on Saturday, and 59 it is.
“I wish the front nine was the whole course, I guess,” the soft-spoken New Jersey native said.
He did approach No. 11 with some trepidation on Saturday. “Yeah,” he said. “On No. 10, I was thinking about 11.”
To Hoffmann’s credit, he didn’t give it much thought past the par-3 12th on Friday. “I let it get into my head a little bit on the next shot, too – I kind of whiffed a 5-iron,” Hoffmann said. “But I got up and down, made a good putt and after that, it kind of sparked a ‘Let’s go, there’s still a lot of golf left.’”
And maybe more next week. If Hoffmann should find his way onto the John Deere charter jet Sunday night, he will have enhanced his chances for PGA TOUR rookie of the year.
He also will have become the fourth player to win on TOUR with a quadruple bogey on his card, joining Phil Mickelson (2009 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola), David Toms (2003 Wells Fargo Championship) and David Graham (1983 Shell Houston Open.)
Oklahoma State sophomore Morgan Hoffman just made the turn at 1 under in his first U.S. Open. Then he added another birdie to get to 10 under and into a tie for the lead. The Wyckoff, N.J., native bogeyed the fifth hole, but he bounced back with birdies on the second, eighth and 10th holes.
Hoffman was the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2008 and won the Phil Mickelson award, given to the nation’s top college player. Out of the 10 amateurs in the field, Hoffman is currently the only one in red figures. -- Ryan Pierce
We now have eight players tied for the lead at 1 under – three of whom, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Mike Weir and K.J. Choi, are done for the day.
Also in that group are Ian Poulter, who has two holes remaining; Jason Dufner, who has three; and Craig Barlow, who has four.
Poulter actually has an 18-footer for birdie at the 17th hole to take sole possession of the lead while Barlow has a 10-footer on the par-5 sixth to do the same.
The afternoon wave is starting to tee off now. Rocco Mediate, who lost the 2008 U.S. Open in a playoff to Tiger Woods, has just birdied his first hole while amateur Morgan Hoffman did the same at No. 2.