Former TCU golfer Tom Hoge doesn’t have much course knowledge at Trinity Forest Golf Club. He played a full round more than a year ago, and got in just nine practice holes on Tuesday.
That didn’t seem to matter on Thursday morning, though. Hoge turned in one of the best rounds of the day, a 7-under 64 to open the AT&T Byron Nelson. He had no bogeys on the day, taking advantage of soft greens from the wet conditions.
Hoge is tied for second along with Tyler Duncan, and sits one stroke behind leader Denny McCarthy (-8).
“It was soft, so I kind of got away without knowing the course as well,” said Hoge, a Fort Worth resident who considers Mira Vista Country Club his home course. “You could fly it in there pretty good.”
Hoge feels like the course suits his game, too, and is hopeful that translates into his best tournament of the season. More important, he’d like to use the Nelson to try and earn a spot in the Charles Schwab Challenge field once again.
Hoge has not qualified for Colonial yet.
“I’m trying to play well and get my way in,” Hoge said. “It’s been a little bit of motivation for me the last few weeks to work hard and try to get in there.”
Hoge has struggled this season, finishing in the Top 25 just once. He went through a stretch a couple months ago where he missed four straight cuts.
But he’s played on the weekend in his last two events, and looks to be in good shape to make it three straight.
“You had to get after it because there were a lot of birdies to be made,” Hoge said.
Hoge had a breakout season in 2018, surpassing the $1 million mark in earnings for the first time in his career. He finished third in the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2018, one of three Top 10 finishes on the season.
At 29, Hoge feels he’s close to a breakthrough on the PGA Tour. There’s a lot of golf between now and Sunday, but Hoge at least has given himself a chance to be in contention with an impressive opening round.
“I felt like when I finished third, I felt like I belonged there for one of the first times on Sunday,” Hoge said. “I felt comfortable in that situation. I haven’t played very well for the last year or so, so I haven’t been in that situation enough. But I feel like the game is coming around. Hopefully I can get it all together this week.”