Tom Hoge hopes ‘home’ 3M Open course — and some heat — will revitalize season
Fargo golfer currently ranked 47th in world and 17th in FedEx Cup points
BLAINE, Minn. — With weekend forecasts calling for hot and humid weather, will the fourth 3M Open in Blaine bring out the Fargo or the Fort Worth in almost one of Minnesota's own?
Raised in North Dakota and educated at TCU, Tom Hoge has called Texas home since his college years and he did so again when asked about the conditions expected at TPC Twin Cities.
"I've gotten a little soft when it's cold," he said. "The heat shouldn't be a problem."
He returns this week to what he considers a home game just four hours from Fargo, ranked 47th in the world and 17th in FedEx Cup points.
He'll tee off Thursday morning and Friday afternoon in a featured pairing with former Masters champion and world No. 14-ranked Hideki Matsuyama and No. 24 Sungjae Im.
Hoge won on the PGA Tour for the first time at Pebble Beach in February and had three other Top 10 finishes through May's PGA Championship at Southern Hills. He hasn't made a cut in six tournaments since then.
"I wish I had an answer for it," he said about a tale of two seasons by July.
His two-shot victory over Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pro Am came two weeks after he finished second at the American Express in Palm Springs. It earned him exemption in all the major championships — or what he called "access to some great events I've always want[ed] to play."
He tied for 39th at the Masters, tied for ninth at the PGA and missed cuts at the U.S. Open and British Open at St. Andrews, the first time he played links golf overseas.
"It was a cool atmosphere, fun to be there," he said. "Hopefully, I'll have a lot more opportunities to be there and learn links golf a little bit better. I didn't feel like my game was real sharp. I just hit it in a few too many bunkers."
His Pebble Beach victory also earned him an invitation to a prestigious pro-am in Ireland a week before the Scottish Open and two weeks before the British Open.
"Pebble Beach seems so long ago for me now that I have to go and do it again soon," said Hoge, who has won nearly $4 million in 28 events this season.
His last six missed cuts started at home in Texas with May's Charles Schwab Classic. The Memorial, Travelers and Scottish Open as well as the two missed majors followed. He has one sub-70 round in his last 12 and none higher than 76.
"It's just really small margins out here," he said. "I think it's pretty close. There's not a lot of difference between playing well and contending and missing cuts."
Now 33, Hoge missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego the week before he won at Pebble Beach and then missed the cut again two weeks later at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles after he tied for 14th at Phoenix the week before.
"It just shows you how small the margin is," he said.
On Tuesday, Hoge was asked at a First Tee clinic he conducted for kids what his favorite club is.
Before he pulled a 10-year-old hybrid out of his bag, he said, "None of them are my favorites now, not the way I've played the last few weeks."
His first tour victory earned those major invitations and recognition that comes from winning for a guy who played on the Canadian and Web.com tours until he joined the PGA Tour in 2015. Before that, he won consecutive Minnesota State Amateur titles in 2009 and 2010 while attending TCU.
"It's hard to remember those days, but it was a lot of fun," Hoge said.
He played enough on the Minnesota amateur circuit that some in the state still consider him an honorary Minnesotan, a distinction he said he "absolutely" accepts. At the 3M Open, he finished tied for 23rd in 2019, tied for 46th in 2020 and missed the cut last year.
"It feels like home," said Hoge, whose wife, Kelly, is from the Twin Cities. "I played a lot of junior golf around here. I haven't been playing well the last few weeks, so it's nice to come back and be familiar with an area. Maybe it will spark me."
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