AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – Charley Hoffman isn’t where he was – for a few minutes Friday Hoffman was 8-under par in this windswept Masters and practically a zip code ahead of the field – but he was happy to have a share of the lead after finishing his second round.
Hoffman may have played the round of the year Thursday when he shot 65 in rugged conditions (yes, two players have broken 60 this year but, all things considered, Hoffman’s round was probably better) and he was 10 strokes higher on Friday.
That’s how thin the line is at this Masters.
“Well, everybody was talking about how great that round was yesterday, but it was pretty easy to me, playing, making putts, hitting good, solid golf shots. Today I think I sort of felt how hard it was for everybody else in this wind when you sort of got out of position,” Hoffman said.
“So yeah, I guess it did feel like 10 shots worse because I just didn’t make any putts. But … I couldn’t be aggressive, seems like I was always just above the hole. I couldn’t get the ball underneath the hole to be aggressive with the putter. Out here, if you can’t get the ball underneath the hole, you’re playing defense, putting down those hills.”
After a quick birdie at the second hole to get to 8-under par, Hoffman hit a rough patch with five bogeys in six holes starting at No. 6. It made stepping to the par-3 12th tee in the wind more daunting than usual.
A par at 12 settled Hoffman and he played 1 under from there.
Hoffman isn’t a particularly familiar name on the Masters leaderboards but he was in second place after each of the first two rounds in 2015 and was in the penultimate pairing on Sunday when Jordan Spieth won the green jacket two years ago. It gives him a sense of what to expect this weekend.
“Just building off what I did two years ago is that I know on the weekend, I got tentative with the putter. I don’t think I’m going to get tentative with the putter on the weekend this year. I learned from that. You learn from your mistakes,” Hoffman said.
“When you get in position, you’ve got to be aggressive. I’ve said that. But when you get downhill sliders, you’re going to have to just creep them over the edge. The last couple years ago, I got tentative even on the uphill ones, and you can’t be afraid to hit a putt 3 or 4 feet by at Augusta National because if you don’t, you don’t really have a chance to make a putt.
“But I’ve learned, I know tee to green, a couple years ago, I was as good as anybody … I feel pretty solid with everything.”