April 7, 2017 / 1:17 AM / 7 months ago

Hoffman makes hay in Augusta comfort zone

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.

Charley Hoffman of the U.S. watches his drive off the 18th tee during first round play at the 2017 Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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

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