AUGUSTA, Ga. – His hair once defined Charley Hoffman, long blonde locks of it spilling out from beneath his golf hat.
The hair is gone, but if Hoffman gets a break or two this weekend he could be known for something else: Being a Masters champion.
Hoffman added a 4-under 68 Friday to an opening 67 to post a score that would be leading most Masters. Unfortunately for Hoffman, Jordan Spieth is on a record-setting run in this Masters and is five shots ahead of Hoffman, his closest challenger.
“I guess the hair’s gone, so I’m not that much different than any golfer now,” Hoffman said. “But most importantly, I just want to play good golf and give myself chances to win golf tournaments.”
So far, in just his second Masters, Hoffman has done just that. On another day ripe for scoring on Augusta National, he made his way around bogey-free until failing to get a chip up-and-down on the 18th hole.
It likely gave him a spot in the final group Saturday in a tournament he has mostly enjoyed only on TV.
“I wish it wasn’t only my second Masters, but obviously I’m a little more mature than I was the first time around or even the young golfers that are playing now,” the 38-year-old said. “They change it up every once in a while but you sort of know how to play because you’ve watched it and I think that’s what’s so great about this golf tournament. Everybody sort of knows how the ball rolls when it gets to a certain spot and where you need to be.”
Hoffman has spent the better part of the last decade making a good living on the PGA Tour, winning twice before his win in Mexico in November got him his second invitation to the Masters. He tied for 27th in his only other appearance in 2011.
Though thrilled to be back, he hasn’t let the mystique of the tournament get to him.
“I think any time you come on this piece of property you’re in awe. Everybody is sort of in awe when they play,” he said. “When you get in between the ropes, it’s just golf and you’re trying to hit shots in a specific area on this golf course. So far through 36 I’ve been able to hit my spots, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
Hoffman is at 9-under 135 through those 36 holes, good enough to be in the lead in eight of the last nine Masters. The course is playing softer this year, though, and Spieth has taken full advantage of it to build a commanding lead.
“Jordan’s playing great golf, so sometimes you get in the lead and you sort of maybe change your game plan a little bit,” he said. “I just kept my game plan and just kept trying to make birdies, was able to do a pretty good job of that.”
Hoffman said he won’t change his plan on how to play the course on the weekend, despite having to make up a five-shot deficit on Spieth. Augusta National, he said, is a golf course where picking spots and knowing when not to be overly aggressive.
If that works, people might stop talking about his hair – or lack of it.
“My hair stopped growing on top like it used to, I guess as you would know,” he said. “So it wasn’t that great a look anymore, to be honest with you.”