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Scott Hoch has no problem moving past his infamous 1989 Masters finish

Scott Hoch knows exactly how Kenny Perry felt after he bogeyed the final two holes of the Masters on Sunday to blow a two-shot lead and eventually lose in a playoff.

Been there, done that.

Twenty years ago this month at Augusta National, Hoch needed par on the final two holes to claim his first green jacket. But an errant drive on 17 led to bogey. On 18, he narrowly missed a birdie putt that would have beaten Nick Faldo by a shot.

In a playoff, Faldo bogeyed the 10th hole and Hoch ran his birdie putt 18 inches past. A tap-in turned into one of the Masters' biggest gaffes. Hoch missed the putt (didn't even hit the cup), and Faldo made a 25-foot birdie on No. 11 to win his first Masters.

Hoch said he doesn't think about that Masters putt much, unless people remind him of it.

"I only think about it when (expletive) like you bring it up,'' said Hoch, laughing, at TPC Tampa Bay, site of this week's Champions Tour Outback Pro-Am.

"That might have made my career better and longer from that point on. I don't really dwell on it that much. It was tough the next week. I didn't sleep very well. Within a year it was all okay.''

Hoch missed the next cut at Hilton Head. But three weeks later, he won the Las Vegas Invitational. As is Perry, Hoch was an above-average PGA Tour player. He won 11 times but never a major. He has made more than $20 million since he turned pro in 1979. Since joining the Champions Tour in 2006, Hoch has won three times.

But golf can be the cruelest of games. Last year at the Outback, the field started to come back to him during Sunday's final round, and at the end, Hoch, who missed a chip shot for birdie on 18, needed a 3-foot putt to force a playoff with Tom Watson.

Yep, he missed it. Watson, despite bogey at 18, defended his champion­ship, and Hoch suffered another crushing second-place finish.

"I backed into the back door of this tournament,'' Watson said.

Hoch said he didn't think he had a chance when he started playing the back nine that Sunday. But Mark Weibe fell out of the lead en route to 5-over 76, and suddenly Hoch was in second.

"I shouldn't have even had a chance to win it last year,'' Hoch said. "Then I had a chance and should've won it.

"But hey, it's a Champions Tour event. You can just brush it off. You mess up out there (on the PGA Tour), it's contracts, world rankings, money, trophies, notoriety. Here, it's just fun. Plus, we might not be as good under pressure as we were on the regular tour. We were better players then. It happens.''

Hoch, 53, will tee it up this week and take another shot at Watson and the rest of the field. He has not finished in the top 10 this season, and his best result was a tie for 15th at the Cap Cana Championship two weeks ago.

He is not sure which Hoch will show up in Lutz, the one who sinks putts and wins or the one who misses putts and loses. But he has come to grips with his career.

"Man, the way I putt, I could miss from any distance, any time,'' said Hoch, who ranks 49th in putts per round and 51st in putting average. "Whether it's a practice round, pro-am or another tournament, that's just one of the flaws of my game I've never been able to get rid of. Every once in a while something comes from leftfield and I can miss it.

"Hey, I've let some go, and I've won some.''

fast facts

Scott Hoch

Birthdate: Nov. 24, 1955

Residence: Orlando; native of Raleigh, N.C.

College: Wake Forest (1978, Communications)

Turned professional: 1979

PGA Tour wins: 11

Champions Tour wins: 3

PGA career earnings: $18,498,499

Champions Tour career earnings: $2,498,772

Best 2009 finish: T15th, Cap Cana Championship (March 29)

Noteworthy: Has a floor named after him at the Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando because of his numerous donations (son Cameron was treated for rare bone infection in right leg at age 2). … Brother Buddy was a professional bowler, and father Art was an All-America baseball player at Wake Forest.

Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan

Favorite entertainer: Frank Sinatra

Favorite movie: It's a Wonderful Life and Blazing Saddles

Favorite courses: Harbour Town GL, Muirfield Village and CC of North Carolina

Scott Hoch has no problem moving past his infamous 1989 Masters finish 04/15/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 6:41am]
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