Hopfinger brings new-found consistency to hometown for Evans Scholar Invitational
September 09, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Brad Hopfinger lives in Chicago, the site of this week's Evans Scholars Invitational. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
After a long season sometimes there is nothing like a little taste of home to help you through the final stretch.
Brad Hopfinger will get that benefit this week at the Evans Scholars Invitational.
Hopfinger, who grew up in a suburb north of Chicago and now lives in the city with his fiancé Sarah (and puppy, Buck) will spend this week sleeping in his own bed. It’s a little home cooking after a long, and unprecedented, season.
“I love this city,” he said.
Hopfinger has been on the Korn Ferry Tour off-and-on for the last five seasons. As we get into the last of the first part of this unique wraparound 2020-21 campaign, he sits 36th on the Points List. He’s never been higher than 78th at the conclusion of a season.
“I’ve been out here on and off since 2015 and some years are better that others,” he admitted. “I was looking to get a little more consistent this off-season and I’ve embraced the crazy of it all, with COVID and all that, and made it work OK.”
Indeed, Hopfinger has missed only two cuts so far this season. Four out of his last five events he finished inside the top-20, including a T6 at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco – his best result since a T5 in Nashville two years ago.
He said initially there was so much out of the players’ control in terms of schedule and travel, due to COVID-19, but as he turned 31 in March and is getting married in October, he’s embraced the unknowns and the uncertainties with a mature confidence.
“That’s really helped me,” he said.
Hopfinger was supposed to get married June 6th but as the Coronavirus was settling in across the U.S. the couple wasn’t sure if they could even have a wedding, or what restrictions might be in place if they decided to press forward safely. Instead they bumped their nuptials to October 10th and downsized the guest list.
Sarah, who he initially met at the University of Iowa but reconnected with when he returned to Chicago (she’s an investment banker in the city), has been a key pillar for his success over the last couple of years, he said.
They were friends in college but got romantically linked a couple of years ago. They got engaged in April of last year.
“Both of us feel really lucky we can get married this fall. We’re looking forward to it and having her support has definitely been beneficial for me in terms of my golf career and everything else,” said Hopfinger of Sarah.
“There is some disappointment by not being able to see everyone but there are some positives we can shift our focus and the really important thing is starting our lives together. It’s a bummer about some things but some positives are there to help us refocus on the right things.”
Hopfinger said Sarah has been ‘all-in’ on golf since she found out what he did for a living. He admits he’s not sure if Sarah knew much about golf at first and didn’t understand it fully, but even on the years when he was struggling he said Sarah’s been fully committed to pushing him to keep going and be all in on golf, too.
“She’s been unwavering in the commitment to it,” he said, despite her demanding investment-banker schedule. “Having someone so close to you be all in really helps.
“I’m very understanding of the hours and she’s understanding of the travel and things that go into (professional golf). We help each other by understanding the down sides but really enjoy the good sides of our jobs.”
So Hopfinger has a supporting soon-to-be-wife, is in the midst of his best-career Korn Ferry Tour season, and this week he gets to sleep in his own bed. But what still needs to be done?
For one, Hopfinger knows he’s not getting any younger. But he said he’s more locked in and motivated than ever. He’s taken some “real, honest assessments” of where he’s been during the last few off seasons and he plans on doing the same come mid-October.
In the past he said he knew he was a good Korn Ferry Tour player, but he wasn’t quite there to get to the PGA TOUR. Things have changed a bit now. He’s more consistent. And, he’s excited to see what’s next.
“You have to assess where you’re at and figure out how to get to the next level,” he said. “The fun part about golf is trying to improve. Come up with a plan to get more consistent and that has helped along with some of the good things in my life that have helped me play more solid.”