AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Charley Hoffman just feels in a good place every time he plays Augusta National and he proved it in emphatic style by shooting a superb 65 in the U.S. Masters first round on Thursday.
The American world number 52 made light of high winds to plunder nine birdies in a brilliant display which earned him a four-shot advantage, the biggest opening-round lead in the year’s first major for 62 years.
“Just when I step on the property, I feel good,” Hoffman told reporters.
“Visually ‑ I‘m a very visual person - it fits my eye. It feels good when I‘m on the greens and on the tees and hitting shots into the green. It just makes me focus a little bit more and I definitely feel comfortable here.”
The 40-year-old Californian, who has won four PGA Tour titles, came into the tournament on a good run of form, finishing tied fourth at the Genesis Open and joint second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He has also performed well at the Masters before with a tie for ninth place in 2015 after lying second at the end of round two.
“I‘m going to feed off that the rest of the week,” Hoffman said. “There wasn’t a ton of pressure today. You’re just trying to make ends meet really.”
Hoffman made four straight birdies from the 14th hole and had a chance to add another on the final green.
“I made nice long putts on 14 and 15, then I hit it close on 16, 17 and had a look on 18 to make it five in a row but lacked a little steam,” he said.
“Obviously, going to sleep on the lead at a major championship here at Augusta National is not going to be the easiest thing but I look forward to the challenge the next three days.”
Editing by Larry Fine