FARGO-It was a two-hour layover in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Monday morning, Jan. 15, two more hours for Tom Hoge to perhaps contemplate what could have been and what actually happened. That's the thing about the PGA Tour - if you don't win the tournament, there is always something.
What the Fargo South High School graduate can take away is his highest career finish, a third-place showing at the Sony Open in Honolulu, Hawaii. It has him on the doorstep of threatening to reach the next level in PGA Tour status.
"You can start setting your sights on creating your own schedule," Hoge said. "Hopefully, I can play my way into the majors still."
There wasn't much time to celebrate the Sony Open paycheck. He caught a 10:30 p.m. overnight flight out of Hawaii and landed in Phoenix around daybreak. After the layover, it was a short flight to Palm Springs, Calif., where he'll play in the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, Calif.
"I'll get a couple days to rest up this week, it's just part of the deal I guess," Hoge said. "I should be fine by Thursday."
By then, the Sony Open will be old news. He came into the final day with a one-stroke lead and still held that advantage for a decent chunk of the back nine.
"I felt pretty confident with the way I was playing," Hoge said. "I was striking the ball well. My game is all about driving, and I drove it great this week. The whole day I hit just a couple of bad shots, but they were a couple at the wrong time."
One that stuck out was an approach on Hole 16 from 153 yards. It was a between-yardage club for him, choosing to use a three-quarters swing with an 8-iron. It caught the bunker left of the green and not only that, it came to rest on the back down slope.
Hoge double-bogeyed the hole and lost his one-shot advantage.
But he came back with a fine tee shot on the par-3 17th, leaving himself with an 8-foot birdie putt.
"It was a strange putt, up and over a little hump and everything was breaking right toward the ocean," Hoge said. "I hit a great putt and it broke left, I still can't figure that one out. What made it worse is I was watching the replay of the coverage and they mentioned there was only one putt all day that missed left. It's one of those things in golf, some of those things need to go your way."
It wasn't over. Once again, Hoge threatened to make it a three-man playoff with a nine-foot birdie putt on No. 18. It barely missed. Patton Kizzire won the tournament on the sixth extra hole over James Hahn, with first place worth $1.1 million.
On the plus side, Hoge picked up $421,600 to up his season total to $725,310, which is 24th on the money list. It is by far his best start in his four full years on the PGA Tour and has already exceeded his best season of $690,319 in 2015.
At this rate, the majors aren't out of the question. For instance, the PGA Championship takes the top-70 leaders on the money list up to a week before the tournament. Hoge figures it will take something in the $1.3 million range to qualify.
For now, he'll try to maintain his momentum this week. He's made the cut in five of the six PGA Tour tournaments of the year, with the calendar season starting in October.
"I felt like I belonged there," Hoge said. "I took a lead going into the final day and played well the whole way."