LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) -- If not for the Ryder Cup, an event Scott Hoch once said was overblown, he doubts he would be in the position he is now.
Hoch was only two strokes out of the lead going into the weekend in the Disney World Golf Classic, his second time in two tournaments since the Ryder Cup that he has been in contention on the PGA Tour.
Two months ago, his game was in such sad shape that he said he didn't want to play in the Ryder Cup, even suggesting he would ask captain Curtis Strange to sit him out.
Instead, he buckled down.
"Even though I said that I probably wasn't as up for it, or didn't hold it in the esteem that many of the other players hold it, I still took it very serious," Hoch said Friday after a 7-under 65 put him in Saturday's final pairing with Chris DiMarco.
"I worked on my game very hard, because you don't want to go there to one of the biggest arenas in golf and then play like a dog. It would be embarrassing."
His effort at The Belfry reflected his career -- strong play, not the best results.
Hoch went 0-3-1 in the matches, but played as well as most any American. Just his luck, he kept running into European players who turned in the best round of the day.
"I had a blast over there, other than getting my butt rung out by them beating me so bad," he said. "I got some solace from that, that I did play well. Maybe when I got back here, I wanted to continue playing the same way, and maybe prove to others that I didn't play poorly over there."
He was runner-up at the Michelob Championship two weeks ago, and had as good a chance as anyone heading into the week at Disney World.
Hoch is 39th on the money list, and a strong finish would get him into the Tour Championship and extend an amazing, if not underappreciated, streak in his career.
Only once in the last 20 years has he finished lower than 40th on the money list, and he will finish this year with more than $16 million in career earnings.
Still, Hoch is best remembered for missing a 2-foot par putt in the 1989 Masters during a playoff eventually won by Nick Faldo. He never has won a major.
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