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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 25 2013

South Fargo grad Hoge working toward PGA Tour card


Tom Hoge is in Boise, Idaho, this week for another golf tournament on the Web.com Tour, which has been a geographic challenge this summer. The understudy to the PGA Tour isn’t making it easy on the players.

In the last month, golfers have been to Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana, Utah and back to Kansas.

“It would be nice if they could group them together so you could drive to them,” Hoge said.

But the road has been pretty good to the Fargo South graduate, who is 35th on the money list. The top 25 players will be awarded a PGA Tour card for next year, which would be the preferred way for Hoge to make the big time.

The other way involves three tournaments called “The Finals,” which consists of the top 75 Web.com money leaders and the top 75 PGA Tour players who do not qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – which would be players Nos. 126 through 200.

The top 25 Web.com money leaders would be a part of that tournament even though they would already earn their PGA cards. Each of the three tournaments carries a $1 million purse.

“You have to be ready for the playoffs,” Hoge said.

Hoge has earned $82,687 and has his season goal of $150,000 in site. He figures that’s what it will take to finish in the top 25.

“I know it will take a few good weeks to get to that number,” he said. “I think every player thinks about that a little bit.”

In a few key statistical categories, he’s 28th in average birdies, 31st in putts per round and 34th in driving distance – all close to his money list standing.

One stat that could use improvement is greens in regulation, where he’s 65th.

His weekly schedule has improved this year compared to last. He’s qualified for more Wednesday pro-ams – a one-day tourney with amateurs the day before a Web.com first round.

It’s important for two reasons. One, playing a course on a Wednesday gives players a better feel for the tournament conditions as opposed to having a main practice day on a Monday or Tuesday. Plus, Hoge can now use Mondays as a travel or rest day.

Usually, the top 50 players on the money list get invited to the pro-am events.

“I like it because it gets my focus more in a practice round,” he said. “Playing Wednesday is good because a course can change a lot from Monday to Thursday.”

Specifically, greens tend to be groomed faster as the week wears on.

“You go out Monday and they just watered the greens,” Hoge said. “Then all of a sudden on Thursday afternoon you’re shocked to see how the ball bounces on the greens.”

The Albertsons Boise Open Presented by Kraft carries a purse of $775,000. Hoge got off to a hot start Thursday with seven birdies in his first 14 holes, which put him just two shots off the lead. But a triple bogey on his 17th hole dropped him back to a 3-under 68.

The Web.com Tour heads across country to suburban Pittsburgh next weekend.

There are 10 tournaments remaining with the next nine on consecutive weekends. Hoge said he may sit out a tournament in Tennessee in the middle of August.

“I’ll see how my body is doing,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a long run here. You have to be ready for the last four events.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia