An Overachieving Underachiever

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Scott Hoch has spent the last nine years inside the top 40 on the PGA Tour money list, but hes got another number in mind right now.
 
Thirty sounds better, said Hoch, who is currently 39th in earnings and trying to make his way into the Tour Championship.
 
The top 30 on the money list following next weeks Buick Challenge will qualify for the $5 million season finale.
 
I wouldnt say a lot rides on this (week), because its the end of the year, and Im just trying to have fun playing, he said after shooting 8-under 64 Thursday to put him one off the first-round lead. Ive played very poorly at the end of many of the years. I think I try to press myself too much and here Im trying to have fun after the Ryder Cup.
 
This is a home event for Hoch, who lives in the Isleworth community with the likes of Tiger Woods, John Cook and Mark OMeara.
 
For some, playing in front of friends and family can be a pressurized situation, but not for Hoch.
 
Its very relaxing, he said. I think Ive learned through the years how to treat this week.'
 
He said his wife takes care of the tickets and social schedule while he takes care of business.
 
And that is exactly what he did last year when, at the age of 45, he won twice on tour. He has yet to garner victory this season, but has been impressed by his contemporaries who have.
 
Five players in their 40s have won this year: Jeff Sluman (45), Nick Price (45), Loren Roberts (47), Dan Forsman (44) and Gene Sauers (40). In addition, Fred Funk (46) has four runner-up finishes, and Cook (45) is 35th on the money list.
 
While the oldies have been goodies, there have also been a tour record 15 first-time winners.
 
I think what it tells you is that when you get 30 youre over the hill ' you have to wait until youre 40 before you can play anything, joked Hoch.
 
The quality and depth that we have on tour is better each year. And thats why we have so many first-time winners, whether we have foreign guys that are coming over here and playing well, or guys coming up through the (Buy.Com) Tour and getting their experience that way ' when they get out here they already know how to win.
 
Hoch noted that the younger generation is feeding off of the competitiveness of one another. And the same holds true for the soon-to-be seniors.
 
Somebody told me that Nick Price gave me a little credit when he won, because he said that, Shoot, if Scott can win at 45then its, like, why cant I? Hoch said. So then Loren told me that, you know, that year I had kind of inspired him.
 
Shoot, what (Roberts) just did inspires me. Shoot, if a 47-year-old can do that, why cant a 46-year-old still win?
 
In his 23rd season on tour, Hoch admits hes been a bit of an underachiever.
 
Hes won 10 times, but only four of those came between his rookie year of 1980 and 1993.
 
Lets just say early or middle of my career I didnt feel I did as well as I should have, he said. And maybe now Im doing better than most at my age.
 
Still, he doesnt think that his recent accomplishments are atonement for his past failures.
 
Obviously, I have not won a major, said the man who finished runner-up in the 1989 Masters after missing a 30-inch putt to win in regulation.
 
Thats the one part I feel that I wish I had. But as far as by not winning a major, do I feel my career is not going good? No. I mean, that would put it at another level, but even not having it I think my career has still been pretty good.
 
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