Charley Hoffman rallies to win in Mexico
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (AP) — Charley Hoffman began to wonder if he would ever win another PGA Tour event. Even after he rallied to win the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on Sunday, he was reminded of how long it had been when his wife and two young daughters joined in the celebration.
“My last win was when Claire was in my wife’s stomach,” Hoffman said with a smile.
That would be his oldest daughter, who just turned 4.
Hoffman rallied from a three-shot deficit on the El Camaleon course, taking advantage of Danny Lee’s mistakes on the back nine and Shawn Stefani failing to put any pressure on him at the very end.
Hoffman closed with a 5-under 66 after taking two putts for a bogey on the 18th. It was his third career victory. He had gone 105 starts between his first and second win, and this time went 108 starts until winning the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year.
“It was really nice to see them run out on the green and see the excitement on their face,” Hoffman said. “We have been talking about it for a while. It’s a little bit longer than I anticipated, but it’s nice to finally get it done.”
He referred to it as a low-stress round, with a few exceptions, including the final hole at Mayakoba.
Stefani, who closed with a 69, made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th to get within one shot. Stefani then hit into a fairway bunker with a lip so steep that he had no option but to hit sand wedge some 50 yards short of the green. Hoffman hit driver that rolled up against the base of a tree, which forced him to play a left-handed shot back to the fairway.
Hoffman safely played some 30 feet left of the hole. Stefani’s pitch came up woefully short, and he chipped to 5 feet. That allowed Hoffman two putts for the win, and he rolled his par putt to within 18 inches for a tap-in bogey.
Hoffman finished at 17-under 267.
Lee ran off seven straight birdies on the front nine to take the lead, but the former U.S. Amateur champion couldn’t hold on. Lee didn’t make another birdie the rest of the way, dropping three shots on the back nine for a 67. He finished two shots behind in a tie for third with Andres Gonzalez, who had a 67 for his best career finish.
“I think I was a little bit nervous and I was rushing myself,” Lee said. “I should have taken a little bit more time.”
Jason Bohn, the 54-hole leader, shot 40 on the front to fall out of contention. He closed with a 74 and tied for seventh.
Carlos Ortiz (68) and Oscar Fraustro (69) both played well in their native country and tied for ninth. Ortiz was the Web.com Tour player of the year in 2014 with three victories. Fraustro will get into the Sony Open at the start of next year by finishing in the top 10.
Hoffman goes to Hawaii one week early by qualifying for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. Hoffman also gets to return to the Masters for the first time since 2011.
Hoffman needed some help from Lee, who began missing all the putts he had been making on the front nine. And he needed a little luck. He was one shot behind Stefani on the par-5 13th hole when Hoffman feared his tee shot went into a hazard. It barely stayed in play, and he went on to make birdie. Stefani, who drove into the fairway, hit his second shot into a hazard and made bogey.
“That was a big change in momentum,” Hoffman said.
The two-shot swing sent Hoffman on his way. He missed a pair of short birdie putts on the 14th and 15th holes, and then hit an approach to 2 feet on the 16th to build a two-shot lead with two holes to play.
Hoffman’s wife and two young daughters greeted him on the 18th when he tapped in his final shot. The last time Hoffman won, his wife was pregnant with their first child.
“My daughter has been wanting to go Hawaii, so I guess we’ll make a New Year’s run,” Hoffman said.
The question is which caddie goes with him. He fired his longtime caddie a few weeks ago. A replacement came down with neck spasms and couldn’t go to Mexico, so Hoffman used Brett Waldman, who had been working for David Toms.