December 02, 2017

Hoffman takes five stroke lead into final round of Hero World Challenge

ALBANY, Bahamas – Veteran Charley Hoffman is streaky and his formidable game is clicking this week. The 2017 Presidents Cup team member overcame blustery conditions to break par for the third consecutive day and increased his cushion to five strokes in the 19th Hero World Challenge at Albany Resort.

Hoffman posted a 2-under-par 70 and was one of only five players in the elite field of 18 to break par Saturday on the Ernie Els-designed layout. He has a 54-hole score of 14-under 202, five better than Justin Rose (71) and Jordan Spieth (72).

Tournament host Tiger Woods, returning to competitive golf for the first time in more than 10 months, struggled to a 75 and is tied for 10th at 4-under 212. He rallied from 4-over on the front to shoot 1-under 35 on the back.

“Just one of those days,” he said. “I really wasn’t that far off.”

Wind blew more 20-miles-per-hour and no one broke 70. In the first two rounds, 20 players shot in the 60s. The average score was 72.9, 3.5 strokes higher than Friday.

Playing in the event for the first time, the 40-year-old Hoffman fashioned six birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey. He saved his best for last, carding birdies at 14, 15 and 18.

A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, Hoffman led the circuit in birdies last season and produced five top 10 finishes to collect a career-high $4.1 million in earnings. His last victory came at the 2016 Valero Texas Open.

Rose, an Albany resident, has two wins in his last five starts and is a combined 103-under par world-wide in his previous nine tournaments. His most recent triumphs came at the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open.

Spieth is 8-under on the front nine this week. In 2014, he won this tournament by 10 strokes when it was held at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando, Florida.

Hoffman, whose 23 birdies top the field, will play with Rose in the final twosome on Sunday. They tee off at 12:05 p.m. ET.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.