Hoch is 47 years old now, and by all rights he shouldnt be pulling such stunts. All the great ones slowly flamed out their final few years on the regular tour, anticipating that great ATM machine that is the Champions Tour. Greg Norman is the latest to gracefully step down. Everyone puts it in neutral in the late 40s ' everyone, that is, except Scott Hoch.
Here he is, still winning championships. The Ford Championship at Doral was the latest for Mr. Money Machine. His first win was 23 years ago, in the 1980 Quad Cities Open. He hasnt won a whole lot ' the Doral was only his 11th. But every year, he seems to win a million-plus. For eight years now hes reached that magic figure, and his career earnings of right around $17 million make him one of the richest Mr. Nobodies in existence. If you dont already, youd better start thinking of him as one of the most successful money minters on the PGA Tour. Mrs. Hoch has been able to enjoy an awfully comfortable lifestyle.
Hoch has enjoyed his enormous success despite frequent trips to the doc. Last year it was his eyes that bothered him, causing him to have the orbs reworked after having surgery the year before. And last week it was the hand that almost had him withdrawing 10 minutes before his tee-off time Thursday.
The bad mitt was not allowing me to take my normal swing and release the ball ' my normal shot, he said on Saturday. Its allowing me to do it some, but in this game, thats not good if its only allowing you to do it some. The other ones you dont pull off are hitting left or right ' that doesnt do you any good.
So the ancient mariner, Mr. Hoch, went out with the bad hand and won a golf tournament. And it became another case of, You never know when its your last chance to win a golf tournament. For Hoch, you dont look at your birth certificate. You just keep looking at the clubs.
He gets a little miffed at the mention of this age thing. In fact, Its a non-issue to me, he says.
The thing is, you dont know when you are going to win your last tournament ' thats the issue. Especially as you get older, then, yes, your chances might be running out as far as winning your last tournament out here. I would hope to think that this wont be the last opportunity to win one, but who knows?
And, there is the pride thing, and something about feeling deep inside that you have been given the short shrift, publicity-wise, your entire career. Hoch wont come right out and say it, but he feels it. You would have to if you have won $17 million and still are largely forgotten when it comes to mentioning the games better players.
But Hoch still has that sense, that he has been awfully good with the stick for an awfully long time.
Its not a matter of pride, he insists, though its hard too see how it isnt. I just try to keep doing the best I can. These other guys play every week, too. Age didnt have anything to do with pride out here. Its how you finished.
Could he have foreseen $17 mil when he started?
No, he admitted. I figured I would be a good player, as far as playing this well late, or this many years down the road. (But) no, I really didnt think about it.
But when you are in your early 20s, who is thinking about it 20, 25 years down the road?
No one, actually. But maybe he isnt done yet. He may win again when he is 47, or even when he is 48 or 49. It took Tiger Woods to take him out in the Accenture Match Play a couple of weeks ago, and he shot 3-under for 14 holes in that one. He may look like Methuslah, but he plays like Superman.