OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. – Charley Hoffman is closing in on making the Presidents Cup team for the first time. He has reached as high as No. 20 in the world, the best of his career. He is headed back to the Tour Championship. By all measures, the 40-year-old is having his best year.
Except for one.
“I haven’t won this year,” Hoffman said. “At the end of your career, you look at how many wins you had, not if you finished 10th in the FedEx Cup. You base your career off wins, and I haven’t won.”
Just don’t get the idea the disappointment of not winning is bringing him down. Hoffman has never been more upbeat, which correlates to good golf.
Along with spending more time with Jay Brunza, the psychologist who worked with UNLV when Hoffman was part of its national championship team, he has been traveling this year with wife Stacy and their two young daughters.
“I have a better attitude,” he said. “Having your kids, you don’t have time to worry about what you did on the golf course.”
Hoffman goes into the Dell Technologies Championship at No. 10 in the Presidents Cup standings, just 23 points ahead of Kevin Chappell, a slim margin when the points count quadruple during the FedEx Cup playoffs. Even if he doesn’t get one of the automatic spots, he has made it hard for U.S. captain Steve Stricker to ignore him.
He has two runner-up finishes, including a playoff loss in Canada. He was in contention at the Masters and U.S. Open until the back nine Sunday. He showed how much winning means to him at the Bridgestone Invitational, when he told his caddie while discussing whether to hit 3-wood to the par-5 16th green: “I’m trying to win a tournament. I’m tired of finishing second.”
“At the start of the year, I wanted to contend in majors and win tournaments,” he said. “I’ve contended in majors. I just haven’t been able to win tournaments. Obviously, that side has been disappointing because I’ve given myself a lot of opportunities.”
His best year? Not without a victory.
Adam Scott figured his season was over after the PGA Championship when he didn’t make enough of a move in the FedEx Cup standings and he was planning to miss the opening two playoff events to be home with his wife in Australia for the birth of their second child. He was certain to be outside the top 70 required to advance to the BMW Championship.
His wife gave birth to a son, Byron, on Aug. 18, and now Scott is headed to the TPC Boston this week at No. 73 in the standings, leaving him a reasonable chance of getting to Chicago.
Scott tends to keep family matters private. No one knew he had gotten married until a month after the wedding.
But that’s nothing compared with Hideki Matsuyama. Only after the PGA Championship did Matsuyama reveal that not only was he married, he has a child.
“No one really asked me if I was married, so I didn’t have to answer that question,” he said last week. “But I felt that after the PGA would be a good time, because our baby is born and I thought that would be a good time to let everyone know.”
Matsuyama said he was married in January. His daughter was born in July.
Players won’t vote for PGA Tour player of the year until after the Tour Championship. The PGA of America has its own points-based award, and right now it’s as close as it can get between Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, with Dustin Johnson right behind.
The PGA of America awards 30 points for a major and 10 points for PGA Tour victories. It also awards on a sliding scale points for the PGA Tour money list and the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjust scoring average (20 points for first place, 2 points for 10th place).
Thomas has one more victory than Spieth, but Spieth makes up the 10-point difference by leading the Vardon Trophy and ranking third in money. That gives both of them 86 points. Johnson, with four victories but no major, is at 74 points. He would need another victory to close the gap.
Just like the PGA Tour’s award, a lot can change over the next three tournaments.
The final round of the Northern Trust had a 2.5 overnight rating, making it the fourth-best rating outside the majors this year.
Sports Business Daily detected a trend.
Jordan Spieth, who lost in a playoff to Dustin Johnson in the FedEx Cup opener, either won or was runner-up in three of the four highest-rated PGA Tour events this year that were not majors. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Travelers Championship, which featured his holed bunker shot in a playoff.
The other tournament was The Players Championship, which typically gets strong ratings. Spieth missed the cut at The Players.
As for The Northern Trust, the 2.5 overnight was the best for the tournament since Adam Scott won in 2013, the year Tiger Woods dropped to the ground with back spasms and still had a birdie chance on the 18th to force a playoff.
Bubba Watson’s tie for 10th at The Northern Trust enabled him to crack the top 100 and join seven other players who have advanced to the second playoff event all 11 years of the FedEx Cup.
And at No. 72 going into the TPC Boston, he stands a reasonable chance of getting into the top 70 and keeping even smaller company. Watson, Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman are the only players who have made it to the BMW Championship every year since the FedEx Cup began in 2007.
Hoffman is at No. 9 and is virtually assured of getting all the way to East Lake. Mickelson is at No. 58 and will need to at least make the cut at the TPC Boston to assure himself a trip to the third playoff event.
DIVOTS: U.S. captain Steve Stricker has decided that the Presidents Cup will start with fourballs matches. Stricker gets to choose the opening format as the home team captain for the matches that start Sept. 28 at Liberty National. The Presidents Cup has started with foursomes eight of the previous 11 times. … The PGA Tour has launched a Korean-language version of its website. The tour is playing an official event in South Korea for the first time this year, the CJ Cup. … The NCAA and Golf Channel have signed an extended contract for live television coverage of the Division I men’s and women’s champions through 2029. … Joaquin Niemann of Chile has won the Mark H. McCormack medal as the leading male in the world amateur golf ranking this year. He becomes the first South American to win the award since it began in 2007.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The United States has produced the most winners of any country on the European Tour this year – Harold Varner (Australian PGA), Dustin Johnson (Mexico Championship, Match Play), Brooks Koepka (U.S. Open), Jordan Spieth (British Open), Justin Thomas (PGA Championship), Julian Suri (Made in Denmark).
FINAL WORD: “I would say at the Olympics, unlike here, half of every day was begging for financial resources to do it. And here, we are blessed that we don’t have to do that. We have people wanting to associate with the Masters.” – Billy Payne, on the differences between organizing the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and being chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
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