TIGER WOODS may have been the main attraction at the Masters, but at the RBC Heritage all eyes were fixed on Morgan Hoffman – playing his first tournament since 2019.
Back in 2016, the former world amateur No1 was diagnosed with incurable muscular dystrophy, which forced him to leave the PGA Tour.
He disappeared into the jungles of Nepal and Costa Rica to live off the grid, after he was unhappy with treatment prescribed by doctors.
Instead, he took on a more holistic approach and dabbled in alternative medicine therapies.
Hoffman drank his own urine for 10 days, he indulged in hallucinogenic drugs, and ate nothing but 800 grapes a day, as he was supported by wife Chelsea.
Now 32, the New Jerseyan is back. And although he didn't make the cut at Hilton Head last week, his efforts to return have been well received.
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Next big thing
When Hoffman turned pro in 2011, he was tipped to be the next big thing.
Previously, he had starred at Oklahoma State University alongside PGA star Rickie Fowler, and was the world's No1 amateur.
Blessed with good looks, he had sponsors falling over themselves. Soon, Polo Ralph Lauren, Mastercard, Breitling and Titleist all signed him up on big deals.
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But in his last year at OSU, he began to notice physical changes to his usually sculpted physique.
He lost muscle mass in his chest, although he didn't feel any pain so thought nothing of it.
As the years passed, though, his deteriorating pectoral muscles started to weaken his swing.
He was misdiagnosed with a trapped nerve, while other leading American hospitals were at a loss to find out what the problem was.
In 2016, he was finally diagnosed with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy -an incurable disease that eats away at your muscles.
Doctors suggested the best Hoffman could hope for was to maintain his mobility for as long as possible.
Recalling the moment he found out about his diagnosis, he told Golf Digest: "It was less than a five-minute call.
"He (the doctor) says, ‘You have Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.’ I’m like, ‘What do I do?’
"He tells me I can do some therapy, but that’s about it. It’s just going to get worse. I’m like, ‘That’s it?’"
Hoffman then visited another specialist, but was met with the same answer.
“I’m like, ‘This is the dumbest s*** I’ve ever heard,’ ” Hoffmann said.
“‘F*** this,’ I said. ‘This is not how you treat people.’”
Taking his life in his own hands
An unsatisfied Hoffman wasn't getting the answers he needed. Instead, he found another, more alternative way, of dealing with his illness.
He travelled to Nepal with wife Chelsea, where they lived off the grid for three months. There, he learned about the ancient treatment of urine therapy.
Twice daily he would experiment by drinking his own pee, rubbing it into his gums and body.
For 10 days he would carry out that ritual, snubbing food and water for a cup of wee.
In search of more cures, Hoffman swapped doctors for 'healers' in the Nicoya Peninsula in western Costa Rica, where people are believed to live long and healthy lives.
Hoffman and Chelsea spent time in Nosara, a surfer's destination and a favourite of Yogis.
They also visited Nicoya in 2019, where they sampled ayahuasca, a psychoactive cocktail that's used as a spiritual medicine among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin, that contains the highly potent hallucinogen DMT.
The Hoffmans drank cups of the special brew every five hours for four days, under the guidance of a shaman.
“They tell you to surrender,” Hoffman said on taking the drug.
“Don’t be afraid; just be relaxed and let it come. The first two nights, I saw things, geometric patterns.
"It was very interesting. But then I realised I didn’t surrender. Third night, I said, OK, let’s go.
"The ceiling disappeared. I could see all the stars. It was the clearest thing ever.
"Out of nowhere this 40-foot, beautiful geometric butterfly comes up on my left side, and under it flies this little moth.
"They start feeding me this huge vine, and in this see-through vine, you could see nature being pumped into me like gasoline—leaves, dirt, full trees, berries, in my mouth.
"Some energy forced me to open my mouth, and I could not close it for the life of me. I tried for an hour and a half.
"The moth pulls the vine out of me and suddenly this huge elephant appears.
"I felt its presence and energy: complete protection. It was so beautiful.
"Then I had to sit up, and all this black smoke started pouring out of my mouth—jet black.
"The shaman next to me said she saw it, too. It felt like the disease was coming out of me. That was a huge turning point in my healing.”
Most recently, Hoffman bought a mountainside house in the jungle in Novara, Costa Rica, that boasts ocean views but no doors or glass windows.
Settled with his two dogs, he continues to work on himself – including taking on breathwork, meditation, and yoga exercises.
Once, so committed to the cause of trying something different, he ate just grapes over a 17-day period. He'd eat over 800 in a day, and was humorously called the "grape guy" by staff at his local supermarket, after he would clear their fruit shelves.
With the addition of weight training to his already packed schedule, Hoffman can also now feel his pectoral muscles again.
He said: “My right pec was the worst — it kind of got down to my ribs, where all you could see is bone and now when I put my hand here and I flex, I can feel it again.
“It’s very, very exciting.”
Next, Hoffman intends to play the Wells Fargo in Maryland in three weeks and work towards getting his PGA Tour card, in case his medical extension isn't enough.
The spiritual warrior is determined to prove doctors wrong with his own choices in life.
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