HONOLULU – Tom Hoge closed his round on Saturday at the Sony Open with back-to-back birdies to move atop the leaderboard and likely send some fans scrambling to Google to find who he is.
In three seasons on the PGA Tour, Hoge has never advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs, never finished inside the top three at an event, and never held a 54-hole lead - all of which will make Sunday’s final round at Waialae Country Club new territory.
That’s not to say Hoge, who carded a bogey-free 64 on Day 3 following opening rounds of 65, lacks any experience with pressure. In fact, if he needs to draw from past pressure-filled experiences, he could think back to the Web.com Tour Championship in October, when he rallied on the final day to regain his Tour card with a closing 65.
“I started the day somewhere around 30th [on the points list]. I was like 1 over through seven holes or something. I was looking like it was going to be back to the Web.com Tour,” he recalled. “I finally pulled off a few good shots to get things going. I got to the last hole, and I saw that I was probably out if I missed the putt, and I got a 15-footer and made it [for birdie].”
He could also pull from perhaps his most high-profile moment, when he shared the 36-hole lead with Tiger Woods at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
“I started the week 130th in the FedExCup [points],” said Hoge, who tied for 38th that year in Greensboro, N.C. “I needed to have a good day, and I didn't play as well as I needed to on the weekend. It's all perspective in professional golf. To go through that environment and to play in that makes it easier for the next time.”
On Sunday he’ll have a chance to see exactly how much he learned from those experiences.