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'Lucky' Hoffmann motivated by his muscular dystrophy

By Rex HoggardJanuary 12, 2018, 2:09 am

HONOLULU – Lucky.

The word hangs in the air for an awkward moment before the conversation moves forward.

Morgan Hoffmann is a lot of things – professional golfer, pilot, athlete, and (if the gallery following his group on Thursday at the Sony Open was any indication) handsome. Like Hollywood handsome.

So as the 28-year-old explains his sleep habits, the idea that he's lucky certainly applies.

“I have to sleep for eight hours every day. That’s my optimal sleep range,” he explains. “I can fall asleep anywhere. I’m lucky.”

But given what’s transpired the last few months, it’s an interesting, even odd, choice of words. Hoffmann revealed in an emotional essay on The Players’ Tribune in early December that he had muscular dystrophy. His right pectoral muscle is completely deteriorated, and his left pectoral is starting to deteriorate. There is no cure for muscular dystrophy.

So when Hoffmann offers an easy smile and a line like, “I’m lucky,” it normally leads to a tough follow-up question. But even though his plight is less than ideal, know that Hoffmann has come by his optimism honestly.

Hoffmann first started to feel the affects of muscular dystrophy in his right pectoral muscle in 2011, but it took five years and some 25 doctors to finally receive a diagnosis.

It was hard, particularly for a player who lists his interests as “anything active, sports, outdoors,” to come to grips with such a devastating disease, but he did.

“I have a lot of energy. I’m eating the right things and feel great getting up in the morning,” he smiles. “Just a couple of muscles keep atrophying, which is aggravating, but I’m getting stronger in the places I have muscles still. I think I’m on the right path.”

Hoffmann, who is entering his sixth season on the Tour this year, believes that he can make a difference with the way he lives his life. By eating better, working out, meditating and getting those eight hours of sleep, he can help stem the damage caused by muscular dystrophy.

He also believes he can help others live better lives.


Full-field scores from the Sony Open in Hawaii

Sony Open in Hawaii: Articles, photos and videos


Many people talk about making a difference, but Hoffmann is doing it, and his plan goes well beyond bringing more attention to muscular dystrophy.

“I think I can help a lot of people, not just for awareness of muscular dystrophy, but kind of guide people in a more healthy way of living,” Hoffmann says. “People are just so uneducated about what is going in their bodies, and it’s pretty unfortunate the way Americans are eating right now. I really believe you can change you physiology if you eat right and you know what you’re putting in your body.”

To that end, Hoffmann hopes to build what he calls a “wellness center,” a kind of health superstore that will focus on the body and the mind.

The wheels are already turning for Hoffmann and his wellness center. In August, the week before The Northern Trust kicks off the FedExCup playoffs, he has organized a pro-am tournament to help raise money.

The event will be played at Arcola Country Club in Paramus, N.J., which is where Hoffmann grew up and is just about a mile form Ridgewood Country Club, site of this year’s first playoff stop.

“The turnout and response already has been incredible,” he says. “It’s going to be pretty amazing what will happen over the next few months.”

Hoffmann says many of the members at Arcola have already committed to playing the event - that’s 44 teams at $12,000 a group - and that he’s already been approached by many Tour players who want to volunteer to play in the event.

In many ways, the wellness center is a byproduct of the life Hoffmann has chosen in the wake of his diagnosis. Each morning, he wakes to take a variety of “high-dose” vitamins to keep his blood levels at the correct level along with a regimen of amino acids and organic honey.

Before he headed out for his round on Thursday at Waialae Country Club, where he opened with a 1-under 69, there was 30 minutes in the gym to warm up, and after his round it was back to the gym for more physical therapy.

Hoffmann doesn’t know if he can slow the onset of muscular dystrophy, but he’s determined to try by any means necessary. That is how the idea of a wellness center was born.

“My vision is having a one-stop shop. You can go in and get a nutritionist, get a therapist, you can check the way your body functions, we are going to have blood testing,” he says. “We’ll have a trainer, a doctor. You go in and get your entire body looked at from inside to out. We’ll put you on a diet, we’ll talk about sleep, meditation, everything.”

Hoffmann’s eyes light up as he explains his grand plans and the pieces that continue to fall into place. There’s no sadness, no regret, no edge to suggest he’s still coming to terms with his plight - just an unwavering belief that he can make a difference.

“If I can just touch a couple of kids that have [MD], that have been put down and don’t think they can achieve their dreams, I just want to show them I can still play and live my dream and hopefully reach my goals,” he smiles.

Lucky, indeed.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”