The road back
Despite missed cut, Morgan Hoffmann proves to himself he belongs back on the PGA Tour
Morgan Hoffmann plays his shot from the 12th tee during the second round of the RBC Heritage.
Jared C. Tilton
HILTON HEAD ISLAND -- It would have been hard to imagine any player not named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson commanding this much attention at a PGA Tour event after an extended absence, but Morgan Hoffmann has been the main attraction at the RBC Heritage. From his fascinating journey battling muscular dystrophy with alternative medicine while living in Costa Rica to his unusual, intriguing press conference on Tuesday to his impressive-but-flawed opening round, Hoffmann's story has been irresistible.
The current chapter of the story came to an end on a windy Friday at Harbour Town, when Hoffmann followed up his opening 71 with a 72, bogeying the 18th hole to stand at one over for the week and losing any faint hope of making the cut. The cut came at even par.
Hoffmann started off with promise, burying a 22-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole, his first of the day:
In his final four holes, it began to look like he'd need to reach one under, but a series of mediocre approaches left him without a realistic look, and on the ninth hole, using an iron off the tee, he sprayed his first shot left and never recovered, settling for bogey and the probable missed cut.
As on Thursday, one of Hoffmann's big problems was driving distance. Even on a relatively short course by PGA Tour standards, he averaged 276 yards off the tee in the two rounds to lag behind playing partners Matt Fitzpatrick and Harold Varner III, and it proved tough to create birdie opportunities. On Friday, his short game wasn't quite as sharp either, and, combined with the windy conditions, it yielded a scarcity of birdie chances.
Nevertheless, Hoffmann wore his usual smile after the round and seemed genuinely optimistic.
"I'm excited about the progress," he said. "I definitely wanted to prove to myself that I could do it again. What surprised me the most was how pure this course was and just how pure PGA Tour events are and how awesome the camaraderie and welcoming was back. It was really special."
Hoffmann, 32, said he intends to play the Wells Fargo in Maryland in three weeks and wants to knock out his two remaining PGA Tour starts as soon as he can in order to pursue other paths to getting his PGA Tour card, in case his medical extension isn't enough. He has to gather 238.42 FedEx Cup points to maintain full-time status.
Short of that, Hoffmann hopes to play opposite-field PGA Tour events, Korn Ferry tournaments, and perhaps even try to Monday qualify, depending on his status. One way or another, his unique journey has now firmly planted him back in the United States, where he'll spend at least the next two-plus months pursuing a dream that once looked destroyed but was only deferred.