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Hoffman: No laying up with win on the line

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AKRON, Ohio – Facing a difficult shot over water to a tiny target on the 16th hole, Charley Hoffman knew there was only one shot he wanted to play.

Hoffman was three shots behind Hideki Matsuyama with only three holes to go, and while caddie Brett Waldman suggested he lay up on the par-5, Hoffman was adamant that he needed to go for it and play for the win after coming up short several times this year, including a playoff loss last week at the RBC Canadian Open.

Hoffman’s shot bounded just over the green, and while he failed to convert the birdie chance he still stood by the decision after a 4-under 66 left him alone in third place, six shots behind Matsuyama.

“If I wanted to finish solo second or something like that and not take on any risk, it’s a layup,” Hoffman said. “Hideki’s not known to go backwards when he has a lead … So I thought I needed to make a few birdies coming in obviously, and I thought the best opportunity was going for it.”

Hoffman made an early charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first seven holes, but he made two back-nine bogeys and wasn’t able to keep pace as Matsuyama tied the course record with a closing 61.

Another high finish bolsters Hoffman’s chances of making his first Presidents Cup squad this fall, and the go-for-broke attitude may soon make another appearance as the veteran’s search for his first win since the 2016 Valero Texas Open continues.

“As I tell everybody, I play this game not to finish second. I play to win,” Hoffman said. “Seconds are great, don’t get me wrong, but when you look back on the end of your career, you don’t look at how many second-place finishes you have. I’m lacking a little bit in that category, and I want to add some more to it.”