Hoffman leads Simpson by two

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Charley Hoffman thought he was through with Harbour Town Golf Links and the RBC Heritage. Turns out, he just wasn’t ready as a younger player to handle one of the PGA Tour’s trickiest layouts.

Charley Hoffman made four birdies on his first five holes to shoot a bogey-free 5-under-par 66 on Saturday in the Heritage.  STEPHEN MORTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
STEPHEN MORTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Charley Hoffman made four birdies on his first five holes to shoot a bogey-free 5-under-par 66 on Saturday in the Heritage.

Hoffman missed the cut his first time playing the event in 2006, then didn’t do much better the next visit, going 72-80 on the weekend in 2009 and took it off his schedule for good. But Hoffman has found a new appreciation and success at Harbour Town that has him 18 holes away from his third career tour victory.

Hoffman had four birdies in his first five holes Saturday to shoot 5-under-par 66 and take a two-stroke lead at
11-under over U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.

“I would say I wasn’t mature enough to play this golf course,” Hoffman, 36, said Saturday. “I didn’t understand how to play it. I guess I would get frustrated when I hit the fairway and didn’t have a shot at the green.”

Hoffman learned his way around Harbour Town like few others. The renaissance began last year with a second-round 65 that led to an eight-place finish. Hoffman opened play with 66 on Thursday, moved into a three-way tie for the top Friday and took control with his hot start in the third round.

“Yeah, it was definitely the best playing round I’ve had in a long time,” he said.

He’ll need to have one more to hold off those chasing him.

Simpson finished with a bogey-free 65, tying the lowest round of the tournament.

Kevin Streelman shot 69 and is alone in third at
8-under.

The round started with 91 players making the cut. Jesper Parnevik moved the cut line Saturday morning to 2-over as he missed a 5-footer to complete his rain-delayed second round and opened the door for 21 players to keep playing.

One of those was Brandt Snedeker, at No. 5 in the world the highest-ranked golfer here and on the verge of missing the weekend after shooting 73-71. Snedeker, who contended in the Masters Tournament last Sunday, was not spectacular in his bonus round, but did enough with 71 to hang around today.

LOCAL INTEREST

SCOTT BROWN

North Augusta native

Score 72-68-70

Shots back 8

WILL CLAXTON

Swainsboro, Ga.*

Score 68-73-69

Shots back 8

BRIAN GAY

Louisville, Ga.*

Score 71-71-70

Shots back 10

PATRICK REED

Ex-Augusta State golfer

Score 71-72-73

Shots back MDF

HENRIK NORLANDER

Ex-Augusta State golfer

Score 71-69-77

Shots back MDF

CHARLES HOWELL

Augusta native

Score 74-72

Shots back MC

* former resident


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