Morgan Hoffmann makes progress in his return to the PGA TOUR

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CROMWELL, Conn. – Sometimes Chelsea Hoffmann wakes up and thinks she’s on a houseboat, with the metronomic sound of waves lapping on the shore.

She and her husband, Morgan, and their service dog, a Doberman named Yama, have been sleeping in their 35ft Sunseeker motorhome this week, and it is parked in the yard of friends of theirs in Old Saybrook. Friends, i.e. the parents of Hoffmann’s junior, Sam “Ghost” Spector.

“It’s beautiful,” Morgan said after shooting a 2-under 68 in the first round of the Travelers Championship, his last start on a medical extension, where he needs a solo fourth or better. “You wake up and look around and it’s just water. The birds are chirping. It’s very peaceful.

Hoffmann, you may recall, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 2016 and left the TOUR three years later.

Frustrated with the limitations of Western medicine, he began a healing journey that included psychedelics, yoga, surfing, veganism, breathwork, and grape cleansing. He traveled from Nepal for ayahuasca (hallucinogenic medicine) to buy a house in Costa Rica for his blue zone healthy attributes.

He’s not the same guy who reached World No. 1 as an amateur, was an All-American at Oklahoma State, and played the TOUR full-time from 2013-17.

And even …

“I’m not ready to just be a weekend golfer,” he said while sipping a smoothie outside the clubhouse earlier this week. “I added a clubhead speed of 7mph. That’s exciting because when I left the TOUR I was down to 104 with the driver, which is not ideal. I seen the biggest jump in the last month and a half, in the gym, lifting hard, eating a lot, regaining confidence.

The smoothie, by the way, is pretty much the only thing Hoffmann can eat in player meals. It limits its menu to raw foods until dinner, when it allows cooked vegetables like spaghetti squash, lentils, spinach, sweet potatoes and mushrooms. He and Chelsea are cooking meals in the RV, where they were Wednesday night, checking Morgan’s right pectoral muscle definition.

That muscle began to atrophy in his freshman year at Oklahoma State, and he spent much of his former TOUR career searching high and low for a diagnosis. He was poked, pushed and sampled. Doctors speculated, dithered, disappeared. For years they had no response.

Once they did, and he was diagnosed with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, Hoffmann was told there was not much he could do. He disagreed, embarking on a holistic journey in which he barely touched a club. That he came back to compete against the best in the world was inspirational.

“He gets player and caddy notes in his locker,” Chelsea said. “Because everyone is on their own healing journey.”

The most sensational part of Hoffmann’s journey, the one that jumped from the pages of a golf summary profile, was the hallucinogenic ayahuasca treatment. He remembers a “geometric butterfly” and a moth feeding him a vine, soil, trees and berries, after which the vine was torn from him, an elephant appeared and a smoke black began to come out of his mouth.

“I felt like the disease was coming out of me,” he said.

Hoffmann has always been a polymath. He is a pilot (but has sold his plane) and has an interest in a clothing company, Greyson. He wore a groovy patterned golf shirt and pink trousers for the Travelers first round on Thursday, his flowing blonde locks fashioned into a manbun peeking out from the back of his black cap, the crown of which featured the logo as a further sign of his foundation.

“I turned around a bit this morning and was late,” Chelsea said, “but I saw him from afar and thought it must have been him!”

She laughed as she watched the action at TPC River Highlands with a handful of Hoffmann’s friends, including one of her partners at Greyson. Hoffmann is also involved in a venture that aims to facilitate access to alternative, insurance-covered medicine. In the long term, he and Chelsea plan to open a solar-powered healing center in their adopted country of Costa Rica. They recently closed on the lot. “I’ve never seen anyone with more interests than him,” she said.

In a way, Hoffmann is like any other TOUR professional. When not in Costa Rica, he lives in Jupiter, Florida, where he plays Bear’s Club and hangs out with friends Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas. The house does not belong to Hoffmann but to his mother, Lorraine, who is a flight attendant and rarely at home. She should be there later this week to cheer him on.

Being in Jupiter has its perks, one of which is that Hoffmann trained at Coastal Performance in Palm Beach Gardens. He’s not the same guy who missed the cut by one at RBC Heritage in Hilton Head in April, his first TOUR start since fall 2019. He’s bigger and stronger, part of an effort concerted effort to catch up with its former competitors.

“They just opened a new gym,” he said. “It’s really cool. It has three different hitting bays, a TrackMan, a putting green that you can adjust for slope, a putting lab, and a gym with a large grass area that’s cool for the agility Medicine ball throwing Jumping Heavy lifting, dead lifting, working with kettlebells, turkish outfits, carrying heavy loads for full body stability, rolling.

“Warm-ups are tough,” he added, “and the finisher is usually like the fan bike, or the ropes, or pushing a sled. I’ve put on about 20 pounds of muscle in the last three months .

He also made an interior transformation, which Chelsea noticed at Hilton Head.

“He thought he had to birdie his last hole and bugged it,” she said. “It was frustrating, and there was a time when it would have ruined his whole week. But he was ready to do other things and be around other people almost immediately.

Instead of pouting, they took the Sunseeker to Colorado for an intensive hike and were snowed in.

Three weeks after RBC Heritage, Hoffmann shot 73-80 at the Wells Fargo Championship in Maryland. It was far from making the cut, but the week, although something of a disaster, provided him with more information yet.

“I was still short,” he said, “and with the rain and cold I was even shorter. I was hitting 3 irons on those greens. step up in the gym.

Chelsea is pregnant, due at the end of October. It will be an open birth, in the couple’s mountaintop home in Costa Rica, without the usual medical assistance. Boy? Daughter? It will be a surprise. Their house is being renovated and they will be back in July. That too could be a surprise – pleasant, hopefully. Morgan’s pectoral muscle returns. His game returns.

If he smokes on Friday and continues through the weekend, he could work his way up to more TOUR starts or some sponsor exemptions. He could end up on the Korn Ferry Tour. But he’ll cross that bridge when he gets there; for now, it’s about embracing the present moment as he rediscovers a version of his old life.

He wants to bring to others the lessons he’s learned on his healing journey, and that includes his former TOUR colleagues. He is particularly intrigued by the treatment of supposedly incurable diseases. It remains to be seen where exactly competitive golf fits into his life, but in a perfect world it will help him fund the Nicoya Peninsula Healing Center in Costa Rica.

His start at 2 under the Travelers was a good start. He will have to continue.

“It could have been really good,” he said. “I feel really comfortable on this course.”

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