NORTON, Mass. -- Adam Scott and D.J. Trahan had been finished for several minutes, yet they loitered outside the scoring trailer, laughing and shooting the breeze as the final moments of the Deutsche Bank Championship played out a few yards away.
Phil Mickelson emerged after signing his card and asked why the pair was essentially loitering. They wanted to congratulate the winner of the tournament, a longtime friend of both players.
|Hoffman shows off his muscles on Monday, but did he impress Corey Pavin enough? (Getty Images)|
Now we're waiting on Corey Pavin.
With much of the golf world fixated on the final PGA Tour event before the four wildcard picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team are announced by captain Pavin on Tuesday, a shocking, shaggy, new contender emerged at the 11th hour.
Actually, more like the 11th hour, 59th minute and 59th second.
In the most impressive round of his career, 33-year-old veteran Charley Hoffman annihilated TPC Boston with 11 birdies in a closing 62 to win by five strokes, tying the tournament's 72-hole scoring record at 22 under par.
Now the question becomes, will Pavin blow off the Hoff?
For the past few days, by utterly unofficial acclamation of those in the press tent, three of the Ryder slots have been handed to Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink, who all have played solidly of late and bring past experience in the event to the table. But of the smorgasbord of players presumed to be fighting it out for the final berth, nobody really stood up and demanded to be counted.
Until the Hoff, the fescue-maned San Diegan who on Monday posted his fourth top-10 finish in the past two months and whipped one of the strongest fields of the year. Rookie Rickie Fowler, whom many believe has the inside track to the fourth spot, has zero top-10 finishes in the same span. And zero wins this year.
"Hopefully, Mr. Pavin sees that," Hoffman said of his deliriously good round. "I'd love to represent the U.S. and be on that team. There's no question that I think I can contribute to that team."
To us outsiders, it sounds fairly simple. But nobody knows whether Pavin is seeking the hottest possible players or doing what Euro counterpart Colin Montgomerie did last week, trying to round out his team with complementary players expert at the two-man aspects of the competition. He will announce the four picks at 10:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday in New York City.
For the Hoff, the rally may have come too late.
|Deutsche Bank Championship|
"I don't think today will have any bearing on it," Cink said shortly before Hoffman finished his final round. "I don't think somebody winning this tournament would make a difference unless he was already in a very, very small circle."
That orbit didn't include Hoffman, who hasn't spoken to Pavin. The captain indicated that he had communicated recently with everybody on his watch list, so obviously, that's not a good sign. Hoffman actually lobbied Ryder assistant captain Paul Goydos for a spot on the team earlier in the week.
"I go, hey, Paul, do you have any influence on the captain's pick, just joking with Paul being myself, and he goes, 'Well, yeah,'" Hoffman said. "I go, well, put a good word in for me. He goes, well, you go out and win, you're going to be on the short list.
"So guess what, Paul? I went out and won and hopefully I'm on the real short list of the guys that play."
It would be tantamount to a Hail Mary connection at the final gun or a half-court bomb to win at the buzzer. Amazingly, Hoffman played in zero major championships this year. He was 59th in Ryder Cup points. Over the first five months of the season, he barely had a pulse. He entered the event ranked No. 132 in the world rankings.
His very pregnant wife, Stacy, due to give birth to the couple's first child in November, watched from beside the 18th green as her husband finished off his scintillating day with his 11th birdie, which -- by the way -- is more under-par holes in the final round than Stuart Appleby managed when he shot 59 six weeks ago. Though he had top-10 finishes at the John Deere, Canadian Open and Turning Stone events, few saw the Hoffman surge coming.
"Hey, you never know, right?" Stacy said.
Same thing holds for whatever's going on inside Pavin's closely cropped noggin.
In a way, Hoffman's playing résumé might work against him. He's insanely long off the tee and ranks No. 17 on the PGA Tour in driving distance, but the team already is festooned with wild bombers. In fact, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Jeff Overton and Woods all rank in the top 32 on tour in driving distance and share another common trait: They frequently have no idea where the ball is going to land.
So adding another bop-till-you-drop guy to the mix might not be advantageous when Pavin has to make out pairings sheets for the two-man formats of the Ryder, where the U.S. has routinely gotten drilled over the past two decades.
Hoffman stumped for himself, while choosing his words carefully and admitting he would not be distraught if he gets skipped over.
"If I can shoot 62 out here in the playoffs," he said, "I am pretty sure I can handle the Ryder Cup."
He might be right. He's certainly a laid-back customer and SoCal to the core, said Scott, who attended UNLV with Hoffman. He basically was Scott's big brother during his freshman year in the States at age 17, driving Scott around all year because the young Aussie didn't have a car.
"He's a beauty," Scott said.
Hoffman, who resembles a combination of Jeff Spicoli and The Dude from The Big Lebowski, hawks T-shirts that read, "Don't Hassle the Hoff."
In a weird twist resulting from his crazy bottom-of-the-ninth rally in Boston, it's possible the Hoff is hassling the Ryder Cup captain, instead.