Hoffman Leads in Utah


Nationwide TourSANDY, Utah -- Charley Hoffman fired a 6-under-par 66 on Thursday to grab the first-round lead of the Utah Classic at Willow Creek Country Club.
Dave Christensen, Nick Cassini, Jeremy Anderson, Garrett Willis, Greg Kraft, Michael Clark II, Rich Barcelo, Jerry Smith and P.H. Horgan III are tied for second place at 5-under-par 67.
Hoffman started quickly on Thursday at the first hole. He hit a 6-iron to 45 feet at the par-5 first and rolled in the eagle putt, but parred his next seven holes.
At the par-4 ninth, Hoffman, who won last year's Permian Basin Open, drained a 10-footer for birdie to make the turn at 3-under-par 32.
He made it two in a row around the turn with a two-putt birdie from 20 feet at the 10th. Hoffman missed the green with his second shot at the par-5 12th, but chipped to 6 feet and converted the birdie putt.
Hoffman found trouble at the 14th and could not save par from 15 feet. He rebounded from the miscue one hole later, when he hit an 8-iron at the 172-yard par-3. This time, Hoffman found the bottom of the cup from 15 feet and was 5 under par for the championship.
Hoffman continued to take advantage of the par-5s at Willow Creek. He ran home a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th to get into the clubhouse with the lead at minus-6.
'It's definitely a good way to start,' said Hoffman, who has missed the cut in his last three starts. 'I definitely played the par-fives well. With five par-5s out here, you've definitely got to get them.'
Hoffman is currently 20th on the Nationwide Tour money list and is hopeful he will remain in the top-20 at year's end so he can move on to the PGA Tour.
'I feel good about everything right now,' said Hoffman, who has five top-10s this season, including a runner-up finish at the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs. 'In the practice rounds this week I played really well. Even last week (in Calgary) when I missed the cut I didn't play that poorly.'
Jim McGovern, Mathew Goggin, Chris Couch and David Branshaw are knotted in 11th place at minus-4.
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