Charley Hoffman will feel right at home defending the Valero Texas Open title in San Antonio as he looks to put his Masters disappointment behind him.
Hoffman entered the final round at Augusta just two shots off the lead before carding a six-over 78 as hopes of the Green Jacket disappeared and he plummeted down the leaderboard into a tie for 22nd.
After missing the cut at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, the 40-year-old returns to familiar territory this week on the AT&T Oaks Course at a tournament where he has only finished outside the top 13 once, with a runner-up spot in 2011 and joint third place four years ago.
“I have had more success at Valero than really any other golf course since it is gone over there. It is a place where I feel comfortable, sort of like the Masters,” Hoffman told PGA Tour.
“I step on the property and it fits my eye, I just like the way it suits my game. (It is a) great place, I look forward to playing every year.”
Hoffman claimed the 2016 Texas Open by one shot from Patrick Reed, making a nine-foot birdie on the final hole to finish at 12-under.
The American is confident his game can again stand up to scrutiny.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, who is going to believe in you?” Hoffman said.
“I sat back with a few people that are close to me and I can ask those questions to and (they) sort of all said the same thing.
“When they say it, it sort of hits you, and it is something I have started to believe in myself. As dumb as that sounds, sometimes you forget to do that out there, and I am definitely doing it now.”
Hoffman, though, is not about to let the events at Augusta play on his mind, having opened the prestigious tournament with a seven-under 65 in testing winds to move four ahead of the chasing pack and some six clear of eventual champion Sergio Garcia.
“I will be nothing but stronger for playing that final round,” said Hoffman, who is now ranked 49th in the world.
“I had a chance and I was in it for a long time. I was leading the Masters after 40-some holes.
“It was a lot of fun and I know I can do it someday.”
Hoffman added: “It is learning from what you don’t expect to happen, sort of like at Augusta. I didn’t expect not to win and I am going to learn from that.
“I am going to be fine. I am not going to go into this depression or anything like that.
“I am going to give it another run this week. I’ve failed enough times to know that another failure is going to be in the future, but hopefully there are some successes too.”
Hoffman sets off today in a group of previous winners alongside Brendan Steele and also Zach Johnson, who won the tournament in both 2008 and 2009 when it was played at nearby La Cantera Golf Club.
At number 14 Reed will be the highest ranked player in the 156-strong field while US Amateur champion Curtis Luck, who played all four days at Augusta, is set to make his professional debut.
Ireland will be represented by Antrim’s Graeme McDowell and Waterford’s Seamus Power at San Antonio. McDowell tees off at 2.10pm Irish time while Power is off at 2.50pm Irish time.
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