Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Masters Notes: No. 16 Proves Costly for Hoffman

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Masters Notes: No. 16 Proves Costly for Hoffman

Article excerpt

Leading the Masters but with all sorts of big names behind him, Charley Hoffman finally seemed to sense the enormity of his position late Saturday afternoon.

When his ball splashed into the pond at No. 16, the advantage was gone.

"Wow," Hoffman mouthed on the tee box.

Wow, indeed.

The 40-year-old American, once known for an unruly blond mullet but all cleaned up these days, squandered a chance to play in the final group at Augusta National with a series of errant shots coming down the stretch.

Now, he'll have to make up some ground on Sunday to capture a green jacket and his first major title.

The deficit two shots isn't all that daunting.

But the players ahead of him certainly are.

Justin Rose. Sergio Garcia. Rickie Fowler. Jordan Spieth.

Hoffman preferred to focus on the positive.

"The swing on 16, it happens. It was a bad one," he said. "But I'm happy. I'm two back. I've been playing good golf and I'm really happy with where I'm at."

It could've been a lot better.

Hoffman was at 7 under when he rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 13, looking very much like he would defy those who expected the journeyman player to melt away under the glare of an Augusta weekend.

Then, suddenly, it all fell apart. He bogeyed No. 14, settled for par on the relatively easy No. 15 and then disaster at No. 16.

With the flag tucked in the back right of the 16th green, Hoffman sent one soaring off to the left. It never had a chance, popping the calm water to set up a double-bogey 5.

Just like that, Hoffman's name slipped off the top line of the leaderboard a spot he had commandeered with a brilliant 7-under 65 in treacherous winds on Thursday and kept through difficult conditions again Friday despite a 75. …

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