FARGO — The summer is heating up. And so is Tom Hoge.
The Fargo South graduate finished in a tie for 23rd on Sunday at the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn. To finish that high is one thing; to do it in front of friends and family so close to home added spice to a solid four days.
“For me it was nice to be at a spot I’m comfortable with, back home in Minnesota,” Hoge said. “It was a fun week for sure.”
The 65-67 over the last two days tied for the best Saturday-Sunday finish in the 30-year-old Hoge’s PGA Tour career, which is in its fifth full year. He had consecutive 66s last year in the Wyndham Championships.
It was his highest finish since a tie for 17th at the Safeway Open, the first PGA tourney of the season last October.
“It was nice to do it on Saturday-Sunday when there was a little more pressure,” Hoge said.
It was a nice rally when he was in a tie for 71st on Friday night and on the verge of not making the cut. But a double bogey on the last hole by one player boosted the cut line a shot and kept Hoge alive.
“I tried to take advantage of the opportunity and I did that,” he said.
The 3M finish was worth just over $49,000 for Hoge, who improved his yearly total to $418,724. More important, it improved his FedEx Cup standings ranking to No. 165.
The top 125 at the conclusion of the season automatically make the lucrative four-event FedEx Playoffs and get full status for next year’s PGA Tour.
He has four tournaments left to make up 40 spots.
“A lot to ask for, but I’m playing pretty well,” Hoge said. “The beauty of golf is you’re only one week away, so I need to go out and hopefully carry a little momentum over from last week, and I think if I finish a top two or three or string a couple good tournaments together that could get me in.”
Hoge’s on the way up. After enduring a string of cuts — he missed eight of 10 in one stretch — he’s made the weekend in nine of his last 10 tournaments. The only miss was the RBC Canadian Open where he missed the cut by one shot despite a second-round 66 after opening with a 73.
The other hiccup was a third-round 76 at the Travelers Championship in mid-June that eliminated him from Sunday play, which came one weekend after an impressive tie for 43rd in tough conditions at the U.S. Open.
Last weekend proved Hoge can do something with the final two days. He finished 13-under for the tournament, which was eight shots off Matthew Wolff’s tourney-winning minus-21.
It was the first career win for Wolff, who just finished his college career at Oklahoma State, in a PGA season that has seen some breakthrough first-time champions. Hoge almost broke through last year finishing third at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
“It seems like every week this year something has been a little bit off, but the last few weeks I’ve been driving it well and that’s the biggest thing for me,” he said. “If I can drive it in the fairway I’ll have a lot of opportunities. And I’m starting to putt better so I’m excited.”
On Monday, Hoge was on his way to the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., located east of Moline, Ill., and the Quad Cities. It’s a tournament where he has yet to make the cut, playing it in 2015-17 and skipping it last year.
“You have to be sharp for all 72 holes,” he said. “In these tournaments, you can’t make any bogeys.”
He’s played 28 events so far, which is among the highest on the PGA Tour. He’s wearing out, he said, but it’s also time to make a good stretch run. One thing he’s done to conserve energy is to do minimum preparation work early in the week.
“You still have to go through the checklist to make sure you’re ready for Thursday,” Hoge said. “It’s been a little bit of a crazy schedule this year. I’m just ready to go lay on the couch and not do a whole lot. It’s just been a lot of golf and one of those deals where I didn’t start off the year very well. You fall behind in the FedEx Cup race and it’s hard to catch up.”