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UNLV alum shows he’s ‘still got it’ with strong showing in Phoenix

Updated February 20, 2024 - 2:56 pm

There were plenty of fascinating storylines from the PGA Tour’s now concluded West Coast Swing, but none was as popular with players and fans alike than the resurgence of veteran Charley Hoffman.

Hoffman’s playoff loss at the Phoenix Open showed the UNLV alum remains capable of quality golf at age 47. That hadn’t been evident in recent years when back issues kept him from being competitive over the grind of an entire PGA Tour event.

“It was a long road,” Hoffman said of feeling healthy again, which happened near the end of 2023. “My back has been bad and just (required) a lot of maintenance, and it’s been nice to be able to show up every week and be able to practice and play and not just hopefully get a start and get in the round.”

His recent struggles forced Hoffman to use a one-time exemption for career money earnings to play this season. But the result in Phoenix has already given him a huge jump on retaining his playing status for 2025.

Hoffman just needs to continue to play well. He believes he will.

“I can’t compete against these guys with a sore back, but if I’m healthy, I’ve still got it,” said Hoffman, a member of UNLV’s 1998 national championship team.

The four-time winner still has the competitive juices flowing after more than two decades on the PGA Tour.

“I want to kick all these young guys’ butts, believe me,” Hoffman said. “I sit back and I want to beat them. I want to be in these signature events. I want to be one of the best in the world again. If I’m healthy I can compete, I want to show these guys I’ve still got it.”

Hoffman certainly had it in Phoenix. It gave him a glimpse of what he hopes is in store for the rest of the year.

“I love the juices. I love competing,” Hoffman said. “This builds a little fire in the belly.”

Rebel earns honors

UNLV junior Toa Yokoyama was named last week’s Mountain West Women’s Golfer of the Week for the first time in her collegiate career.

Yokoyama finished third at the San Diego State Classic thanks to a 5-under 67 in the final round Feb. 13. It was her second consecutive top-10 finish for the Rebels.

The finish also moved Yokoyama up to No. 8 in Spikemark’s national individual rankings.

Junior clinics on tap

The Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association is offering a pair of free clinics for beginning golfers ages 5 to 15.

Clinics will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. March 2 at Wildhorse Golf Club and March 16 at Eagle Crest Golf Club. Free clubs will be available for use during the clinics, which will include instruction in swing fundamentals, putting, pitching, full swing and fitness.

Register at www.snjga.org.

U.S. Women’s Open qualifiers

Nevada is being bypassed by the United States Golf Association as a local qualifying spot for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open. The organization has announced 26 locations for local qualifying for this year’s championship. The closest qualifiers to Las Vegas are Soboba Springs in San Jacinto, California, on April 23 and Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale, Arizona, on May 6.

The U.S. Women’s Open will be played May 30-June 2 at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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