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'Lucky' Hoffmann motivated by his muscular dystrophy

By Rex HoggardJanuary 12, 2018, 2:09 am

HONOLULU – Lucky.

The word hangs in the air for an awkward moment before the conversation moves forward.

Morgan Hoffmann is a lot of things – professional golfer, pilot, athlete, and (if the gallery following his group on Thursday at the Sony Open was any indication) handsome. Like Hollywood handsome.

So as the 28-year-old explains his sleep habits, the idea that he's lucky certainly applies.

“I have to sleep for eight hours every day. That’s my optimal sleep range,” he explains. “I can fall asleep anywhere. I’m lucky.”

But given what’s transpired the last few months, it’s an interesting, even odd, choice of words. Hoffmann revealed in an emotional essay on The Players’ Tribune in early December that he had muscular dystrophy. His right pectoral muscle is completely deteriorated, and his left pectoral is starting to deteriorate. There is no cure for muscular dystrophy.

So when Hoffmann offers an easy smile and a line like, “I’m lucky,” it normally leads to a tough follow-up question. But even though his plight is less than ideal, know that Hoffmann has come by his optimism honestly.

Hoffmann first started to feel the affects of muscular dystrophy in his right pectoral muscle in 2011, but it took five years and some 25 doctors to finally receive a diagnosis.

It was hard, particularly for a player who lists his interests as “anything active, sports, outdoors,” to come to grips with such a devastating disease, but he did.

“I have a lot of energy. I’m eating the right things and feel great getting up in the morning,” he smiles. “Just a couple of muscles keep atrophying, which is aggravating, but I’m getting stronger in the places I have muscles still. I think I’m on the right path.”

Hoffmann, who is entering his sixth season on the Tour this year, believes that he can make a difference with the way he lives his life. By eating better, working out, meditating and getting those eight hours of sleep, he can help stem the damage caused by muscular dystrophy.

He also believes he can help others live better lives.


Full-field scores from the Sony Open in Hawaii

Sony Open in Hawaii: Articles, photos and videos


Many people talk about making a difference, but Hoffmann is doing it, and his plan goes well beyond bringing more attention to muscular dystrophy.

“I think I can help a lot of people, not just for awareness of muscular dystrophy, but kind of guide people in a more healthy way of living,” Hoffmann says. “People are just so uneducated about what is going in their bodies, and it’s pretty unfortunate the way Americans are eating right now. I really believe you can change you physiology if you eat right and you know what you’re putting in your body.”

To that end, Hoffmann hopes to build what he calls a “wellness center,” a kind of health superstore that will focus on the body and the mind.

The wheels are already turning for Hoffmann and his wellness center. In August, the week before The Northern Trust kicks off the FedExCup playoffs, he has organized a pro-am tournament to help raise money.

The event will be played at Arcola Country Club in Paramus, N.J., which is where Hoffmann grew up and is just about a mile form Ridgewood Country Club, site of this year’s first playoff stop.

“The turnout and response already has been incredible,” he says. “It’s going to be pretty amazing what will happen over the next few months.”

Hoffmann says many of the members at Arcola have already committed to playing the event - that’s 44 teams at $12,000 a group - and that he’s already been approached by many Tour players who want to volunteer to play in the event.

In many ways, the wellness center is a byproduct of the life Hoffmann has chosen in the wake of his diagnosis. Each morning, he wakes to take a variety of “high-dose” vitamins to keep his blood levels at the correct level along with a regimen of amino acids and organic honey.

Before he headed out for his round on Thursday at Waialae Country Club, where he opened with a 1-under 69, there was 30 minutes in the gym to warm up, and after his round it was back to the gym for more physical therapy.

Hoffmann doesn’t know if he can slow the onset of muscular dystrophy, but he’s determined to try by any means necessary. That is how the idea of a wellness center was born.

“My vision is having a one-stop shop. You can go in and get a nutritionist, get a therapist, you can check the way your body functions, we are going to have blood testing,” he says. “We’ll have a trainer, a doctor. You go in and get your entire body looked at from inside to out. We’ll put you on a diet, we’ll talk about sleep, meditation, everything.”

Hoffmann’s eyes light up as he explains his grand plans and the pieces that continue to fall into place. There’s no sadness, no regret, no edge to suggest he’s still coming to terms with his plight - just an unwavering belief that he can make a difference.

“If I can just touch a couple of kids that have [MD], that have been put down and don’t think they can achieve their dreams, I just want to show them I can still play and live my dream and hopefully reach my goals,” he smiles.

Lucky, indeed.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.