Entering this year, Hoffman had missed the cut in three of four starts and broken par just twice in those 10 rounds.
He’s in position to change his fortune at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, though. Hoffman holds the halfway lead after shooting 68-66.
He’s making his first start here since 2013 after a missed cut at last week’s Valspar Championship left him out of the field for next week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
“I wasn’t in Match Play, and then obviously honoring Arnie is not a hard thing to come here and (do),” said Hoffman, who’s No. 85 in the FedExCup. “He was what we all wanted to be. Great with the fans. He was the guy (who) sort of paved the way for us. I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, but just meeting him here and there was always an honor.”
Hoffman remembers a year at the Masters where he teed off in Thursday’s first group, which meant starting his round after Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit the honorary opening tee shots. He ignored protocol and asked them to autograph flags for his foundation’s fundraiser, and for his personal collection.
Hoffman is scoring well after learning earlier this week that he was aiming left with his putter. Fixing his alignment has helped him hole more putts, including two putts from outside 30 feet. He ranks 188th in strokes gained: putting this season, but is No. 6 in that statistic this week.
Hoffman is a four-time PGA TOUR winner. This is the sixth time he’s held the 36-hole lead. He’s never won after holding the halfway lead.