Before they turned pro: Tom Hoge
- Golfweek photo
After putting himself in contention enough times to feel comfortable making the crucial putts on a PGA Tour Sunday back nine, Tom Hoge
has cashed in for his first PGA Tour victory, racing ahead of Jordan Spieth over the last four holes at Pebble Beach and capturing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“I'm almost a little in shock,” Hoge said. “It's been so long since I won anything that I forgot how to celebrate.”
The 32-year-old has had two runner-up finishes in over 200 PGA Tour starts, most recently at The American Express Championship two weeks ago, so he was poised to break through. He did so, making birdies on three of his last four holes to overtake Spieth, who Hoge first faced in college when he played at TCU while Spieth was down the road at the University of Texas. In fact, Hoge would win the Morris Williams Intercollegiate, hosted by the Longhorns, in his senior year.
Hoge is a native of Fargo, North Dakota, not exactly known as a hotbed of amateur golf. Golf courses are unplayable for many months each year due to the frigid winters, but Hoge found a way to become a world-class player anyway.
He started by winning local events, including medaling 20 times in high school tournaments with four straight state championships for his team. He then went on to win two state titles each in both North Dakota and Minnesota including back-to-back Minnesota State Amateur Championships in 2009 and 2010.
In college, he became the first TCU sophomore to earn GCAA Academic All-American mention since J.J. Henry thirteen years earlier. That year, he finished fifth in NCAA Regionals and third in the NCAA Championships. Hoge went on to earn All-Mountain West Conference honors, as well as two Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar awards.
He competed in several major amateur events like the Player Amateur, Porter Cup and Sahalee Players Championship, but got his best amateur major finish in the 2010 Western Amateur, when he was the stroke play medalist (along with C.T. Pan) and made the quarterfinals.
Then, as now, he found himself flying under the radar as players like Spieth and others were getting more of the attention. Looking at his amateur resume, he would wouldn't have been considered a can't-miss PGA Tour pro (similar to players like Brooks Koepka
and Xander Schauffele
). But as he proved at Pebble, he has the game and the drive to complete his journey from North Dakota to PGA Tour champion.