Pain, then gain for OK State’s Hoffmann
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Morgan Hoffmann’s Oklahoma State teammates call him “The Machine.” He’s stone-faced on the course, with his eyes often hidden behind a pair of sunglasses. The Machine had a slight malfunction before last week’s Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas – he sprained his right ankle while playing basketball – but still won his first title since the 2009 Big 12 Championship.
Hoffmann shot 10-under 206 to win by two shots over Texas A&M’s Jordan Russell and help lead the Cowboys to the team title. Hoffmann also holds the course record at Southern Highlands; he shot 62 on his way to a runner-up finish there in 2009.
He moved up nine spots to No. 5 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings after his Vegas victory, but it’s not his first trip to the top 5. He was ranked second at the conclusion of his freshman season in spring 2009. He also was a member of the ’09 U.S. Walker Cup team.
Hoffmann sprained the ankle while playing basketball about 10 days before the tournament. He was on crutches for three days, then wore a walking boot until three days before the event. Hoffmann could only chip and putt while wearing the boot. He had to rehab four hours per day in advance of the event, he said. The forced focus on his short game paid off.
“I was putting and chipping well, so I was feeling good,” Hoffmann said. He also had been working on clearing his left side through impact, and said the injury may have helped him do that because it made him quick to get his weight off his right side during the downswing.
Then there’s the old adage “beware of the injured golfer,” which reasons that an injured player performs better because he feels less pressure to perform. That may have applied to Hoffmann. Teammate Peter Uihlein said Hoffmann is an extremely hard worker who can be very results-oriented.
Regardless of the reason for his victory, one thing was certain.
“It feels so good to win again,” Hoffmann said.
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Transitions ahead for Uihlein: Uihlein’s Oklahoma State teammates returned to Stillwater, Okla., after their victory Sunday at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters. Uihlein flew overnight to Orlando, Fla., then drove about two hours to the Tampa area Monday to begin preparations for the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship, where he is playing on a sponsor’s exemption.
Uihlein is playing the Transitions in preparation for his first Masters next month. He finished 21st at Southern Highlands, his worst finish in a college event this season.
“I played pretty good,” Uihlein said. “Southern is one of those courses where you can hit a lot of good shots, (but) you get rejected. I feel like my game is pretty good, and my scores didn’t really indicate how well I feel like I played.”
He is No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and No. 1 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Rankings.
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Short shots: Patrick Cantlay’s third-place finish at Southern Highlands moved the UCLA freshman to No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Uihlein, who fell to No. 2, had held the top spot since winning his first event of the season at Olympia Fields. . . . Augusta State, led by final-round 67s from Henrik Norlander and Patrick Reed, won the General Hackler Championship at TPC Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for its first title since the 2010 NCAA Championship.
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A look ahead . . .
What: Callaway Match Play Championship
When: March 20-22
Where: Hawks Ridge Golf Club, Ball Ground, Ga.
Why it’s important: Top-5 teams UCLA (No. 2), Alabama (No. 3) and Georgia Tech (No. 4) headline a quality 16-team field that gets three days of match-play experience, something that could come in handy for teams who make it through to the elite eight at the NCAA Championship. Also competing: No. 6 Illinois, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 10 Texas, No. 11 Iowa, No. 13 Georgia and No. 18 Texas Tech.