Certainly, his face offered a sense of radiance most of the afternoon and Harbour Town Golf Links was in quintessential mode, so was it mission accomplished?
Morgan Hoffmann confirmed that it was – on all fronts.
“The first tee shot wasn’t as neve-racking as I thought it would be. The game didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as I thought it was. It was pretty exciting.”
Mind you, this is not your typical competitive golf story from the highest level of pro golf. This is the story of a 32-year-old who hasn’t played since November of 2019, a man who has devoted nearly the last five years to a search to beat facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. He is the one player in the RBC Heritage field who can honestly say his score, an even-par 71, wasn’t the end-all to his day.
“I was trying to be humble with myself, really. I didn’t have really any goals of a score, I guess. I just trying to hit it solid.”
For the record, Hoffmann succeeded. So says playing competitor Harold Varner III.
“He’s still good at golf,” said Varner. “It’s like riding a bike. Obviously, it’s going to take a while to get the rust off, but it’s just good to see him.”
Hoffmann – who has spent several months in Nepal and most of the last two years in Costa Rica to treat his MD with a holistic wellness regimen – had three birdies and a bogey on his outward nine, but made bogeys at the par-5 15th and par-4 18th to wind up even.
He hit 11 of 14 fairways, but just 10 greens. Hoffmann appeared most pleased with his putting (“I’m really confident. I hit all my lines today.”) but there’s no doubt his ball speed isn’t where it needs to be to compete with the PGA TOUR elite.
“I’m driving it really short,” said Hoffmann, whose driving distance was 274.9 yards. “I’d love to have a little bit more speed.”
Had the cut fallen Thursday, it would have been at 1-under, so Hoffmann knows he’ll need to improve Friday to get a chance at the weekend. Making bogey at the 18th after driving it in the fairway and missing the green from 212 yards was only a small blip, though.
There is a bigger picture at stake.
“I love this game so much,” he said. “I think the game’s closer than I thought.”