HARTFORD, Connecticut – After a stellar career at Oklahoma State, Morgan Hoffman turned pro in 2010 and made his Travelers Championship debut three years later via a sponsors’ exemption.
Hoffman shot 7-under-par 273 to tie for ninth, five strokes behind winner Ken Duke. He made the 2014 Tour Championship in his second season and has compiled three Top-3 finishes since, including a second in the 2017 Honda Classic, which came a month after he was diagnosed with Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD) that characterized by chronic weakness and muscle loss across the chest, shoulders and upper arms.
Despite the misfortune, Hoffman has remained competitive, making 11 starts on the PGA Tour last season and four this season, most recently missing the cut in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October. For his dogged perseverance, the 30-year-old Hoffman has been named the recipient of the PGA Tour’s Courage Award.
“To be recognized alongside the past recipients of the PGA Tour Courage Award is very humbling,” Hoffmann said. “Playing on the PGA Tour with muscular dystrophy, I hope to inspire people to follow their dreams, no matter what ailments they have, whether it be a disease or a mental disability.”
The Courage Award is presented to players who “overcome extraordinary adversity, such as personal tragedy or debilitating injury or illness, to make a significant and meaningful contribution to the game of golf.” Hoffmann is the award’s fourth recipient, joining Erik Compton (2013), Jarrod Lyle (2015) and Gene Sauers (2017). The award includes a $25,000 charitable donation, which will be made to the Morgan Hoffmann Foundation at his two-day charity tournament June 21-22 at Arcola Country Club in Paramus, N.J. The event, which has raised more than $1 million in each of the last two years, is several days before the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell on June 25-28.
Hoffman was born and raised in Wyckoff, N.J., won two consecutive New Jersey state championships, relocated to Hank Haney’s International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., to take advantage of the warm weather and training opportunities. He spent two years at Oklahoma State, where he played on the golf team and held the No. 1 spot in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for a time in 2009 and played in that year’s Walker Cup.
After playing in the 2010 U.S. Open, Hoffman decided to leave college early to turn professional. He qualified for his first pro major in the 2012 U.S. Open, finishing in a tie for 29th. He played on the Web.com Tour in 2012, starting the season with no status and getting by on sponsors’ exemptions and Monday qualifiers. He played in 13 events and finished 19th on the money list, earning a promotion to the PGA Tour.
In December 2017, Hoffman announced he had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in a lengthy post on The Players’ Tribune and was immediately inundated and overwhelmed by messages of support from his fellow pros and the public. In his first-person article, Hoffman wrote he first started noticing a deterioration in his right pectoral muscle in 2011. After five years of misdiagnoses and tests, it was determined he had the incurable disease.
Despite the diagnosis, Hoffman insisted his goals hadn’t changed while being named one of the most eligible bachelors on the PGA Tour.
“Please know this: This disease won’t keep me from achieving my dream of winning on the PGA Tour – and it shouldn’t keep anyone else from chasing their dreams either,” Hoffman said.
Much of Hoffmann’s post centered around his charitable efforts with various organizations, and he maintained that helping find a cure for muscular dystrophy will rank among those efforts moving forward.
“I believe now that this is why I was put on this Earth,” Hoffman said, “so that when a child is diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, there will be a cure; there will be people to help with mental, nutritional and physical training guidance. And especially so that no disease will ever hinder a little boy’s or girl’s passion for life.”
BROOKS KOEPKA ENJOYS ROUND WITH THE PRESIDENT TRUMP
Brooks Koepka received the GQ treatment as the subject of a lengthy feature that appeared online this week. Though there weren’t many revelations golf-wise, other than Koepka saying he doesn’t “need any more” golf friends, it was revealed he played with President Donald Trump over the holidays for the first time. Rounding out the foursome at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach, Fla., were Koepka’s brother, Chase, and father, Bob.
“I mean, we had a blast,” Koepka told GQ. “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool. I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the president of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
Koepka, who began the year No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking and is now third, told GQ that he’s met four of the five living presidents, and that spending time with then-president Barack Obama at the Floridian Golf Club was one of the “top five highlights of my life so far.”
“I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” Koepka said. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing. That’s what I don’t understand about the teams that don’t go to the White House. It’s still … like, if I see an older man, it’s ‘Yes, sir’ or ‘mister.’ It wouldn’t be like, Hey, Jack, what’s up? It’s like, Hey, Mr. Nicklaus, how are you? Out of respect. Doesn’t matter who it is.”
Koepka is one of several top male players who have played at least one round with Trump, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. No. 1-ranked McIlroy, No. 4 Justin Thomas, No. 7 Patrick Cantlay and three-time winner Bubba Watson are early commitments to the Travelers Championship. Chez Reavie is the defending champion after ending a 13-year victory drought in 2019.