Todd Hamilton shows return to form
American Todd Hamilton, golf’s forgotten man since his surprise victory at the 2004 British Open, was back in the limelight at the U.S. Masters on Friday.
The 43-year-old buried memories of seven missed cuts in nine starts on the 2009 PGA Tour by moving into contention with a two-under-par 70 for a six-under tally of 138.
“On paper my year has not been that great,” Hamilton told reporters after carding an eagle, four birdies and four bogeys in swirling winds at Augusta National. “But it wasn’t to the point where I lost all hope.
“I may have had some 74s and 75s but a drive five yards left here or five yards right there a couple of times during the round and those 74s and 75s could have been even-pars.
“It doesn’t look very good but it wasn’t to the point where I was going to quit playing the game.”
The golfing public became aware of Hamilton at Royal Troon five years ago when he beat South African Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff.
A rank outsider going into the tournament, Hamilton held off the former world number one to clinch his second PGA Tour title.
He ended that campaign as the Tour’s rookie of the year at the age of 38 but has largely struggled for consistency since.
“I did not play all that great until maybe the last half of last year,” said Hamilton, who has not won since his British Open victory and has finished no higher than 134th in the PGA Tour money list.
“Then all of a sudden I started making cuts although my finishes were not spectacular.
“Had I had one better round out of all four rounds I would have had some really good finishes. It seemed like I was always finishing between 25th and 40th.”
Hamilton, who failed to post a single top-10 for the second consecutive year despite making 17 of 28 cuts on the 2008 PGA Tour, said improved driving had made a big difference this week.
“I’ve been driving the ball well for a while,” he added. “I feel very relaxed and I always know I can play golf at this level.
“It doesn’t happen as often as I would like and probably a lot of guys would say that. But I feel if I can get off to a good start, usually I’m okay.”