Charley Hoffman, the American who looks more at home tapping a keg than a birdie putt, raced to a 4-stroke lead after 18 holes at The Masters on Thursday by firing a 7-under 65.
He put the field in his rear view mirror with a four-birdie stretch between holes 14-17. William McGirt was the only man to strike below 70, finishing with a 3-under 69 to sit in second.
The course played tough as ever, with only 11 men in the field getting under par. Among them are former Major winners Lee Westwood (70), Jason Dufner (71), Phil Mickelson (71), and Justin Rose (71). Also in the glut at 71 are Sergio Garcia and Matthew Fitzpatrick, while Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, and Rory McIlory are among those at even-par 72.
Defending champion Danny Willett is 1-over with a 73, and former No. 1 Jason Day is 2-over with a 74.
Hoffman has four previous wins on the PGA Tour, most recently the 2016 Alero Texs Open. His biggest win to date is the 2010 Duestche Bank Championship in which he blew away the field by five strokes, finishing 22-under.
He’s only been a factor once before at any major, finishing tied for ninth at Augusta in 2015. That’s his lone top 25 finish at any of the four majors.
As anticipated, Dustin Johnson was unable to overcome his freak back injury and had to withdraw from the tournament. It ends his run of two straight top six finishes at The Masters.
Johnson has finished in the Top 10 of at least one Major every year since 2009. In 2015 and 2016, he finished in the top 10 of three of the four, including his win at last year’s US Open.