It wasn’t until the 15th hole right before Charley Hoffman rolled in his ninth birdie of the day to take a three-shot lead that he noticed a leaderboard. In fact, he posted so many that he couldn’t even keep track. He posted two more in the closing stretch to shoot a scorching nine-under 62 and win the Deutsche Bank Championship by five strokes over Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy and Luke Donald.
I was walking down the 12th hole following Day and Brandt Snedeker when I heard a loud roar from the adjacent 13th green. I looked over to see Hoffman emerge from the bunker with his fist in the air and I realized he must have holed out for birdie.
Interestingly enough, Hoffman, whose last win came at the ’07 Bob Hope Classic, endured a wrist injury earlier in the year — which sidelined him for five weeks — because he was practicing too many bunker shots in the off-season, according to his caddie Miguel Rivera.
With his long blond hair flowing from his white hat, Hoffman looks more like a California surfer than a golfer. Well, if you don’t count the kelly green glove that matched his pants and shoes on Monday. He laughed when asked if he thought his win would prompt more golfers to grow their hair.
“Well, the way Rickie Fowler and I have been playing, maybe they will. Rickie has obviously had a great year and his hair is long,” said Hoffman. “I guess I do it just to stand out a little big in the crowd. I guess golfers tend to sort of look alike and I try to stand out a little bit for my sponsors to sort of showcase my personality.”
By capturing the second FedEx Cup event, Hoffman moves to second in the standings, securing him a spot in the Tour Championship. He also gets into all four majors next year. But was this effort good enough to snag a spot on the Ryder Team? American captain Corey Pavin is set to announce his four wildcard picks at 10:30am EST at the NYSE on Tuesday morning.
Hoffman, who acknowledged he wasn’t even in the running before this victory, sure hopes so, but he won’t be too disappointed if he doesn’t get the nod.
“Let’s put it this way: Would I be honored to play on the Ryder Cup team?” said Hoffman. “There’s no question. I’d love to play. I think I’d help that team. If I don’t get picked, there’s not a bad pick. All these players who are going to play for the US Team are great players and they’re going to show up there and they’re going to be a great team if I’m on it or off it, but obviously I’d love to be on it.”
Hoffman jokingly asked assistant captain Paul Goydos to put in a good word for him when he chatted with him earlier this week.
“[Goydos] goes, well, you go out and win, you’re going to be on the short list,” said Hoffman. “So guess what, Paul. I went out and won, and hopefully I’m on the real short list of the guys that play.”
Hoffman’s five-shot victory is impressive, especially 62 in the closing round, but I’d be shocked (perhaps appalled is a better word) if one incredible tournament this season earns him a captain’s pick. His previous best finish was T4 at the RBC Canadian Open. He has three other top-10s.
“The best perk hopefully will be a Ryder Cup berth,” Hoffman said. “I’m not going to know until tomorrow. Obviously I wasn’t in contention, but I hope I am now. It would be an honor to play, and I think I can play well. But besides that, definitely getting into Augusta is the best perk, and knowing inside I can close the deal coming down the stretch when I need to.”
On the chance Pavin goes crazy and picks Hoffman, he’ll probably find out tonight. Other Ryder Cup hopefuls Rickie Fowler and Nick Watney said Pavin told them they’d hear from him one way or the other.
[Photo by Kyle Auclair/insidetheropes.com]