Tom Hoge missed putts on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes Sunday in Honolulu, and all they did was lose him a golf tournament.
Hoge, the 54-hole leader at the Sony Open, finished a shot out of a playoff — close, sliver close, to his first PGA Tour victory. Hoge had a one-stroke lead heading to 16, and though it’s oversimplifying all that happened over those final three holes, here it is: Make one of the three putts, he’s in a playoff. Make two, he wins in regulation.
Win, on the big tour, and the perks roll in: fully exempt status for three years; a berth in the Masters; a cluster of FedEx Cup points; and, in this case, $1.12 million. Hoge earned $421,600 for his solo third, his biggest golf payday, but the bling that goes with winning — not to mention being able to say, “I won on the PGA Tour” — will have to wait. But this we believe: It will come.
Whether he knows it or likes it, Hoge is a friend of Grey Goatee Nation. We keep an eye on him out there, ever since I covered him on assignment for his hometown paper, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (N.D.), in his first U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in 2015.
Hoge is back on the bucking horse this weekend for the CareerBuilder Challenge at La Quinta. Patton Kizzire, who outlasted James Hahn to win on the sixth playoff hole Sunday, is in the field. So is Hahn.
Kyle Stanley is not playing at La Quinta, but if anybody could offer hope to Hoge after his late-Sunday fail, it’s him. Stanley, you’ll remember, took a three-shot lead to 18 at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, hit his teeball in the water, and took triple-bogey. He lost in a playoff. But here’s the thing: The very next week, at the Phoenix Open, Stanley came from eight shots back to start his Sunday, shot 65, and won the tournament.
Will Hoge find similar redemption in the desert ? It would make a good story.