NORTON, Mass. – Amazing sometimes how little things, or a little break, can so heavily influence a round. Maybe an entire tournament. Who knows? In some cases, possibly an entire career.
Charley Hoffman won the Deutsche Bank Championship by five shots Monday at TPC Boston. He shot 9-under 62 and blistered the field. A cruise, right? Well, rewind to Saturday and the second day of the tournament, and he got an incredible stroke of fortune early in his day. Following two opening pars teeing off on the back nine, Hoffman went long and left and nearly into a hazard at the par-4 12th. He skulled his next shot over the green – and that one was definitely bound for a hazard – until the ball collided head-on with a hazard stake, keeping it dry.
On his next shot, his fourth, Hoffman knocked a 55-foot chip into the hole.
Ho-hum. Routine par.
He then made four birdies over his next six holes and was off and running, shooting a second-round 67. It was only Saturday, so who knows how big that break was, and how much momentum he carried away from making 4? But his caddie knows it was pretty large.
“Those are the types of things you need to happen to win,” said Miguel Rivera. “We’d been playing so well. It was just a matter of putting it all together.”
Again, there were arguably three key shots in Hoffman’s closing 62 that carried him to victory. He thought he’d hit 4-iron short on the par-3 11th, his ball heading toward a menacing bunker. “Don’t plug,” was the plea from Hoffman as he watched from the tee. The ball carried the bunker, landed in the collar of the green, trickled to the hole and nearly went in for an ace, bumping off the flagstick to 4 feet. “I turned 4 into 2,” he said. Two holes later, he missed the green and holed a bunker shot. Birdie. And on 15, after blocking a drive right, Hoffman got to his ball only to see it sitting on the edge of a cart path. Instead of dropping, he pulled out a 5-iron and ripped a shot into a front bunker, from where he saved yet another par.
A gutsy play? Rivera smiled, giving his inquisitors the sense that his man has been known to stray from the fairway from time to time, and they’d been there before.
“We’ve played from the cart path lots of times,” said Rivera, who at times has even given Hoffman his sneakers (which is legal) so his player could take a better stance. “We’re comfortable there.”