PEBBLE BEACH >> A new unheralded rose has emerged.
Tom Hoge is currently leading the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with one shot. He has won zero of his 202 career PGA Tour events, and is ranked 64th worldwide.
Hoge finished second at the American Express Championship in La Quinta two weeks ago. He made six consecutive birdies starting on the third hole (his back 9), en route for a nine-birdie round, bogey-free round, and his slim margin over Seamus Power.
Hoge said, “I started on 10, and hit a 30-foot, 35-foot putt straight off the bat.” It was great to see one get in the fairway so early. After that, I didn’t do much during the middle part of the round, the middle of my first nine holes. But then, it was just kinda like going on.”
The tournament’s 76th anniversary was held under mostly sunny skies. It reached 60 degrees, and spectators returned to the championship for only the second time in two years.
Hoge missed the cut last week, saying that “it’s difficult to be in bad mood here.” “I mean, Pebble Beach is as perfect as it gets. It was great fun.
“I feel like my game has been improving. “I’ve been eager to get out on the golf course. I feel that Pebble Beach suits me well so I was thrilled to get out there this week.”
Power, whose lone career PGA Tour title in 117 career PGA Tour event was last July at Barbasol Championship, Kentucky, birdied the last four holes of his final front nine at Spyglass Hill Golf Course, to add his seven-birdie and no-bogey 64.
Power said, “Yeah it was a great end because it’s an old golf course.” Power said, “I hit a terrible tee shot on par-3 fifth. I had a good up-and down to keep at 4, and then it just clicked.” “Really, I made some very nice putts and took a few very nice shots.”
Austin Smotherman Pebble Beach shot a 66, while Jonas Blixt shot 65 at the Shore Course of Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Both are two shots ahead of Hoge.
Hoge has missed 89 PGA Tour cuts, or approximately 44 percent of his career starts. This week, he is trying a new putter.
Hoge said, “Yeah I made some putts. I switched putters this Week.” It was huge to see one hit the ball right away on the first hole. Although I felt that I made many good putts today, I felt like it was very close last week. It’s a difficult course. It was a bit too rough for me and I didn’t make enough puts.
“But the margins between missing a cut or being in contention are so small, so just keep a positive outlook and keep plugging away.”
Patrick Cantlay is the No. Patrick Cantlay, who is No. 4 in the tournament’s rankings, shot a 6-under 65 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course. Andrew Putnam is also tied at 6-under.
Cantlay was one of the eight top-50 players at the event. “Then I closed really strongly. It was a great finish to the week, and it’s nice to have three consecutive rounds on this course.
Cantlay, who is the reigning PGA Tour player-of-the-year, felt he could have capitalized better.
Cantlay stated that MPCC is “probably the easiest, most forgiving, and the 5s are really simple which I kinda botched a few today.”
“The conditions of the golf courses have been much better this week. They are absolutely fantastic. This is by far the fastest I have seen these greens, at 2 feet. This makes it a much more difficult place and requires you to use your head more.
Jordan Spieth was the 2018 tournament winner. He was also among the nine former titlists.
Justin Rose shot a one-under 70 at MPCC. The 2013 U.S. Open winner has won 24 of his pro victories, including 10 on the PGA Tour.