At the 2013 Travelers Championship, it’s almost déjà vu for Charley Hoffman, who finds himself near the top of the leaderboard for the second straight year. This year, however, Hoffman is looking for a slightly different ending.
Plenty of golfers will tell you that when a course just feels good, or “suits their eye”, the game gets that much easier. They’ll find a groove where they can make every shot, find every layup spot and gamble when they feel like they’ve got the right opening. For Hoffman, that course is clearly TPC River Highlands.
In 2012, Hoffman entered the final round of the Travelers Championship in third place, just a stroke behind leaders Stuart Appleby and James Driscoll. Then he got on the roll of a lifetime, going -4 on the front nine and then adding three more through 13 holes. He had the tournament in control, but then found the water from the 17th tee, leading to double bogey. His bogey on the 18th ended up being the finishing blow, and a red-hot Marc Leishman came from nowhere to steal the victory.
This year, Hoffman is tied with Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet, and will tee off in the final pairing with DeLaet on Sunday afternoon. You might think that Hoffman would be reliving last year’s finish as he tries to sleep tonight, but he insists he’s got his focus on Watson, DeLaet and the host of close contenders that includes Hunter Mahan and U.S. Open winner Justin Rose.
“Obviously if I get on 17 tee (in the lead), I’d be lying to say I’m not going to think about that tee shot,” Hoffman said Saturday after his 4-under 66 tied him with Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet at 10-under 200.
“But I’m a much more mature, better player than I was a year ago and don’t feel uncomfortable on that tee shot.” (via USA Today)
Hoffman is a two-time PGA Tour winner and knows how to get the job done. However, in order to redeem his finish from last year, he’ll have to be on top of his game. Not counting Watson and DeLaet, there are 10 golfers within three strokes of the lead, so the margin for error is going to start thin, and may get thinner even before Hoffman and DeLaet tee off. Each day this week, at least one player in the field has shot a 65 (-5) or better, including all three co-leaders.
Regardless of what happens, the final round of the Travelers Championship is shaping up to be one of the most exciting finishes we’ve seen yet in 2013.