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Comeback story

Beset by health issues, Morgan Hoffmann and his journey take a stunning turn

April 19, 2024
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Morgan Hoffmann returned to action at the 2022 RBC Heritage.

Jared C. Tilton

It’s one of those developments in professional golf for which you just shake your head and say, “What the heck?”

Those who have followed the game closely in the last few years know the story of Morgan Hoffmann. He is the former No. 1 ranked amateur in the world who starred at Oklahoma State and seemed destined for loads of PGA Tour success.

Then he was diagnosed in 2016 at the age of 27 with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Years of struggle and unsatisfying medical treatments would come before Hoffman and his wife traveled to the jungles of Costa Rica for them to basically live off the grid and him to partake in alternative approaches—a journey chronicled by Golf Digest.

Hoffmann, saying his health was improving, returned to the PGA Tour in April 2022 at the RBC Heritage on a major medical exemption, and though he missed the cut in three of five starts, there was reason for optimism. Yet he didn't make a start last year, and now he’s back this season playing some events on the Korn Ferry Tour. That leads to the remarkable week he’s having in the Lecom Suncoast Classic in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

On Friday, in his fifth start of this KFT season, Hoffmann fired a second-round seven-under-par 64 at Lakewood National Golf Club to go with his opening 65, and his 13-under total put him alone in second, one shot behind Brandon Crick (62). The 64 was his best card since the 2022 John Deere Classic, where Hoffmann ultimately tied for 51st.

“It’s huge progress,” Hoffmann told PGATour.com on Friday. “I’ve been knocking rust off, I guess, since the beginning of the season. I haven’t played the last two years. It feels really good to be back out here competing again.

“This course really fits my eye and I feel good,” he added.

Hoffmann told the tour’s website that he has struggled with putting but put a new flatstick in the bag this week. He also is using a new set of irons that he put into the bag three weeks ago.

The 34-year-old has been far from idle away from the course. He and his wife Chelsea had their daughter, Rai, in 2022, and they are looking to open a solar-powered healing center in Costa Rica. Hoffmann said that when he’s in the United States he plays out of the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla.

“I’m very grateful to be here,” Hoffmann said. “The last two years have been a lot of ups and downs, working on health still. My wife and I had a baby girl, she’s 1 (year) and 4 months now, and she’s got my heart on a string. Rai. She’s a little ball of light. It’s awesome.

“I want to be there for her,” he continued. “It’s different having a family; going home is very important and healing and rejuvenating for me. I don’t feel as much pressure to be out here grinding non-stop. I think that’s really fulfilling me more and keeping a smile on my face.”