HONOLULU, HI – JANUARY 13: Tom Hoge of the United States reacts after a birdie putt on the 17th green during round three of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 13, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
By Christopher Powers
Tom Hoge was likely not a name many had on the radar heading into this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, and probably not even heading into Saturday’s third round at Waialae Country Club.
A bogey-free six-under 64 on moving day has changed that quickly, vaulting the TCU alum to the top of the leader board at 16-under 194. He takes a one-stroke lead over Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire into Sunday’s final round in search of his first PGA Tour victory.
Hoge, 28, played solid all day, making four birdies on his opening 10 holes, followed by six straight pars to keep pace with the leaders. Then, at the par-3 17th, he dropped a birdie from 40 feet to get to 15 under, and added one more at the 18th to take the solo lead. While it’s not a spot he’s found himself in many times in his previous 75 starts on tour, he remained optimistic.
“Yeah, a new position. It’s a good one obviously. I’ve been close to the lead a few times in the fall. So a little bit to draw on there,” Hoge said. “Haven’t quite pulled it off yet. Just getting a little more belief in myself, and hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day for me.”
Close behind are Harman and Kizzire, who shot by far the most impressive round of the day, a six-under 64 that started with a double bogey on his opening hole. It wasn’t until the par-4 sixth when he finally made up ground, beginning a streak of five consecutive birdies that did more than just right the ship.
“I just want to stay patient until I get hot. That’s what I say at home. That’s what I say to my caddie,” Kizzire said. “I told him, after I made double, I said, Well, I’m not trying to not mess up anymore. Sometimes you go out there, and you’re just trying not to mess up, which is a terrible mindset, but guys do it. So I went ahead and messed up and took advantage of the free wheeling after that.”
He rode the momentum to three more birdies at the 14th, 16th and 18th to get to the clubhouse at 15-under 195, earning a spot in the final group on Sunday. A win would not only be the second of Kizzire’s career, but the second in his last four starts, the first coming at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November.
As for Harman, his two-under 68 wasn’t the prettiest round of his week, but it was enough to remain in excellent position to win on Sunday. Doing so would give him a victory in back-to-back seasons and mark the third of his career.
Kyle Stanley is in solo fourth after firing a five-under 65 that featured four birdies, a bogey and an eagle at the par-5 18th. The former Clemson standout continues to enjoy somewhat of a career resurgence, one that’s already included two top-25s and a T-5 at the WGC-HSBC Champions thus far in the 2017-’18 season.
Six back is defending champion Justin Thomas, who carded a four-under 66 to get to 10-under 200.
Jordan Spieth posted his low round of the week on Saturday, a bogey-free four-under 66 to get to seven-under 203 for the tournament. That puts him nine back in a tie for 28th.