Notebook: Hoffman not satisfied in year without a win

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Old Westbury, N.Y. — Charley Hoffman is closing in on making the Presidents Cup team for the first time. He has reached as high as No. 20 in the world, the best of his career. He is headed back to the Tour Championship. By all measures, the 40-year-old is having his best year.

Except for one.

“I haven’t won this year,” Hoffman said. “At the end of your career, you look at how many wins you had, not if you finished 10th in the FedEx Cup. You base your career off wins, and I haven’t won.”

Just don’t get the idea the disappointment of not winning is bringing him down. Hoffman has never been more upbeat, which correlates to good golf.

Along with spending more time with Jay Brunza, the psychologist who worked with UNLV when Hoffman was part of its national championship team, he has been traveling this year with wife Stacy and their two young daughters.

“I have a better attitude,” he said. “Having your kids, you don’t have time to worry about what you did on the golf course.”

Hoffman goes into the Dell Technologies Championship at No. 10 in the Presidents Cup standings, just 23 points ahead of Kevin Chappell, a slim margin when the points count quadruple during the FedEx Cup playoffs. Even if he doesn’t get one of the automatic spots, he has made it hard for U.S. captain Steve Stricker to ignore him.

He has two runner-up finishes, including a playoff loss in Canada. He was in contention at the Masters and U.S. Open until the back nine Sunday.

He showed how much winning means to him at the Bridgestone Invitational, when he told his caddie while discussing whether to hit 3-wood to the par-5 16th green: “I’m trying to win a tournament. I’m tired of finishing second.”

“At the start of the year, I wanted to contend in majors and win tournaments,” Hoffman said. “I’ve contended in majors. I just haven’t been able to win tournaments. Obviously, that side has been disappointing because I’ve given myself a lot of opportunities.”

His best year?

Not without a victory.

Close race

Players won’t vote for PGA Tour player of the year until after the Tour Championship.

The PGA of America has its own points-based award, and right now it’s as close as it can get between Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, with Dustin Johnson right behind.

The PGA of America awards 30 points for a major and 10 points for PGA Tour victories. It also awards on a sliding scale points for the PGA Tour money list and the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjust scoring average (20 points for first place, 2 points for 10th place).

Thomas has one more victory than Spieth, but Spieth makes up the 10-point difference by leading the Vardon Trophy and ranking third in money. That gives both of them 86 points. Johnson, with four victories but no major, is at 74 points. He would need another victory to close the gap.

Just like the PGA Tour’s award, a lot can change over the next three tournaments.

Spieth TV

The final round of the Northern Trust had a 2.5 overnight rating, making it the fourth-best rating outside the majors this year. Sports Business Daily detected a trend.

Spieth, who lost in a playoff to Johnson in the FedEx Cup opener, either won or was runner-up in three of the four highest-rated PGA Tour events this year that were not majors. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Travelers Championship, which featured his holed bunker shot in a playoff.

The other tournament was The Players Championship, which typically gets strong ratings. Spieth missed the cut at The Players.

Fourballs first

Stricker has decided that the Presidents Cup will start with fourballs matches. Stricker gets to choose the opening format as the home team captain for the matches that start Sept. 28 at Liberty National.