Charley Hoffman: Taps winning experience to win OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Charley Hoffman came from three stroke behind to win the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He did it by shooting 66 in the final round that included a fluke bogey on 18, his only bogey of the day. Down to a 1-stroke lead, he hit his drive behind the base of a tree trunk; dead middle of it:

“Yeah, Shawn made a good birdie on 17.  Obviously, put the pressure down to one shot. ”

“He had the tee and pulled his drive and I knew he was going to be in a little bit of trouble.  That bunker — I didn’t know he was going to be underneath the lip.”

“I was trying to aim down the left side of the fairway, knew I could carry that bunker, and didn’t think there was much trouble left.  Was a little unfortunate to end up next to the base of a tree.”

It took a little while for the two of them to sort out their mistakes, but it was very interesting to watch. How far would Shawn Stefani be able to gouge his tee shot out of the bunker and what was Hoffman going to be able to do with his stymied situation? 

Stefani could do no more than get his ball short of the green. Hoffman already knew before Stefani played the shot that it was unlikely he could make birdie from the bunker to catch him.

So he turned an iron upside down and played a pretty competent left-handed punch shot straight out right to the fairway. In that situation, his mind was cool enough that he played the smart shot:

“Well, I walked up and, first of all, I saw Shawn’s ball under the lip of the bunker, so I knew he wouldn’t make birdie.”

“Then I saw my ball behind the tree.  I knew, most importantly, I could only control my score on the hole.  So I just tried to get the ball back in play and knowing, if I did, I would have some sort of a wedge into the green.”

“Then I was able to get it back in play and there’s a side of me that wanted to be aggressive with that pin with ‑‑ I had 120 something yards to the hole — but knowing Shawn was still short of the green and would have to hit a good chip to get up‑and‑down for par, I sort of took the conservative line, making sure I would have some sort of putt at par, instead of taking a real aggressive line with a sand wedge.”

He hit it pin high, but 30 feet left of the hole; not exactly a comfort putt. But once Stefani left his short pitch shot still short of the green, Hoffman knew that he would most probably make bogey from there. Meaning that Hoffman could 2-putt for bogey and still win:

“It worked out and I was able to make a bogey and that was good enough.”

Hoffman had two wins before this one, the 2007 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of the four Playoffs tournaments. He drew strongly on the second one for inspiration:

“Yeah, obviously nice to win.  It’s been a while.  It’s been four years.  Expectations were probably a little bigger after the win four years ago at the Deutsche Bank and then coming off a fourth place finish in the FedExCup.”

But it hasn’t been a placid four years. There is the constant wonder about when the next win will come:

“Yeah, to be honest with you, you sort of wonder if it’s going to happen again.  I’ve been close, obviously, more than a handful of times and never closed the door.”

“You sort of sometimes wonder if you’re ever going to win again.  I’m not getting any younger, I’m about to turn 38.”

And once you’ve won, you know what it takes. Until then, you wonder which of many things it could be. Hoffman went directly to the heart of it:

“I just kept hitting fairways.  Hit some good iron shots [into the greens] that gave me some good looks.”

On a personal note, it continues to inspire me the ways in which God demonstrates that his hand is in my life.

After I had decided that I could not longer pursue my nine-year quest to play on the Champions Tour, my attention turned full time to completing my manuscript about the experience and how it turned into a spiritual adventure. But how to promote it once it was complete?

God had already placed the late Keith Harrell in my circle of acquaintances. He was one of the top-10 public speakers in the country and we shared the same golf coach here at Desert Mountain. We had spoken about my interest in public speaking before, but suddenly I saw that the time for this shift might be now and asked if he would be my mentor.

Because he was a knuckle-dragging road warrior (I should have thought of that), he said he didn’t have the time, but he personally introduced me to his coach in Dallas. She was expert in helping speakers put their twenty to thirty minute programs together. And for the first time with a client in her career, she convinced me to mount a one-man show instead. I was really resistant to this bold suggestion, but dutifully wrote the first three pages of the script the morning I left and saw that it could work.

Since the book and the show had a spiritual theme, I felt it necessary to make the point in my media kit that spirituality had gone mainstream and that there was a hunger out there for this kind of material. This was around the time that Rick Warren had sold 27 million copies of his mega hit, A Purpose Driven Life, Joel Osteen had sold 1.5 million copies of, Your Best Life Now, and the ever prolific Wayne Dyer had recently released another hit, The Power of Intention. But there weren’t any sales numbers on that one yet.

So I called the Marketing Department of his publisher, Hay House, to see if they would help me. I ended up speaking with Stacy, a terrific young assistant who said that she would see if she could pin them down for me.

In the course of our email conversations, she became quite interested in my show and its overtly spiritual themes and wanted me to be sure to let her know when it was coming to the San Diego area.

The other area of common interest we had was that her boyfriend was a professional golfer too. He was playing on the Nationwide Tour, now the Tour. I looked up his name and to my surprise, he was No. 10 on the money list and I have been following him ever since.

Stacy went on to become Mrs. Charley Hoffman and it gave me great pleasure to watch her greet him on the 18th green today with their two baby girls.

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