Hoffman inspired by Big Three

Charley Hoffman got autographs from The Big Three, then went out and played like them in round one of the 69th Masters.

Hoffman, from Poway and UNLV, saw Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player warming up for their ceremonial tee shots and asked them to sign Masters pin flags that he will use to benefit his foundation.

Then he posted a 5-under-par 67 in the first official threesome and wound up three strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth in a tie for second on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

“That was pretty cool,” said Hoffman, who teed off five minutes after the three legends hit their shots. “I was sort of scared of them. ‘Should I ask them? Should I not ask them?’ … My mind was not on golf early on. I was thinking of those guys.

“To follow those guys off the tee was pretty lucky and special. … You wouldn’t have set me up any better than that. I think mentally I was in a good spot and obviously was able to take advantage of it.

“You’re always nervous on the first tee here, but after that it’s just golf.”

Hoffman, who has won three times on the PGA Tour, is making his second appearance in the Masters, having tied for 27th in 2011.

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