Hoffman pulled two shots clear of the field at Bay Hill with a second-round 66 that included seven birdies over his final 14 holes. He sparked that stretch with a 38-foot make on No. 5, then added another birdie from 43 feet on No. 13.
Hoffman missed the cut last week in Tampa, a result that dropped him from No. 68 to No. 71 in the World Ranking and out of the field for next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. With his Masters ticket already punched by virtue of his win at last year’s Valero Texas Open, Hoffman explained that he would have skipped this event had he made the match-play field.
“All in all, I think that it’s probably a better decision to play this week than to have played match play and play those long, grueling rounds,” Hoffman said. “I’ve got a big stretch coming up, so I obviously would have loved to play the World Golf Championship, but I’m not overly disappointed.”
Hoffman has bounced back quite nicely this week at Bay Hill, where he has played just four prior times since 2007. While he missed the cut in three of those four trips, he would relish an opportunity to don the red cardigan sweater that will now be given to the event’s champion.
“What Arnie did for our game of golf, as everybody knows, is second to none. To win his golf tournament would be something special,” he said. “Unfortunately it would be a shame for him not to greet me on the 18th like all the other past champions, but I’ll take it.”