On Saturday afternoon Eric Weddle bounded through the Augusta National entrance on Berckmans Road. He was the one with the long, bushy jet-black beard.
“Let’s go, Charley!” he bellowed. “It’s your day, baby! Your day!” Weddle’s volume was better suited for a football game than a golf tournament, which was fitting given that he is a hard-hitting, All-Pro safety for the San Diego Chargers. Weddle had flown across the country to support his SoCal pal Charley Hoffman, who after 36 holes was very much in the mix in just his second Masters start. (He tied for ninth.) Other members of Charley’s Angels in attendance at Augusta included Hoffman’s wife, Stacy; his daughters, Claire, 4, and Katelynn, 1; his parents and in-laws; his brother; and a handful of other extended family members and friends.
“He’s going to do great,” said Hoffman’s father, Ernie, as he trailed Weddle through the security checkpoint on Saturday. “Whether he wins or loses—second or fifth or whatever, it’s exciting for him and it’s exciting for us.”
That’s the thing about this tournament: While Hoffman might not rev your motor (and let’s face it, he has become a lot more ordinary since he snipped off his trademark mane), his big week among the azaleas is an experience that his loved ones will never forget. And you can be certain the same goes for the inner circles of Bernd Wiesberger (22nd), Danny Willett (38th) and a host of players who probably don’t exhilarate you. “It’s special,” said Ernie, who got to play the course with Charley a couple of weeks ago.
On Wednesday, Claire and Katelynn helped tote Dad’s bag in the par-3 contest. The tee time conflicted with Katelynn’s naptime, but she behaved beautifully. “Amazing what a bag of candy will do,” Charley said. On Saturday morning Charley logged a couple of hours of practice, then popped back to his rental home for a spot of lunch with the family before his 2:55 starting time with Jordan Spieth. In the evenings, he was home in time to tuck in the girls.
“I think they put me in a good frame of mind,” Charley said of his brood.
Last week he returned the favor.
This article appeared in the most recent issue of SI Golf+ Digital, our weekly e-magazine. Click here to read this week's issue and sign up for a free subscription.