LAS VEGAS – Tom Hoge wanted to make sure he took advantage of the good conditions in Las Vegas on Thursday morning. He exceeded expectations by making two eagles to take a one-shot lead at the Shriners Children’s Open with an 8-under 63.
One of the eagles came with a putting wedge in hand, part of a six-hole stretch at 6-under in the middle of a round at TPC Summerlin.
The other eagle was a 35-foot putt on the hilly par-5 16th. Likewise, Hoge puts bogeys off the card.
Presidents Cup teammates Si Woo Kim and Tom Kim converged on Max Homa two weeks ago in a team that brought back memories and stories from Quail Hollow. Si Woo Kim had a 64 and was tied for second with Maverick McNealy, while Tom Kim had a 65 and Homa fell just short with a 67.
Homa defeated Tom Kim 4-0 in singles in his President’s Cup debut. But it was Tom Kim who made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole, putting his hat on the ground to celebrate the victory as his partner with Si Woo Kim.
“We still talk about the Presidents Cup as some holes,” Si Woo Kim said. “Then I finished the hole and Tom came over on 18 and said, ‘If you make that, I’m going to have to ask you to throw in the hat on the last Saturday.’
McNally now lives in Las Vegas and had more support than usual for Thursday morning, and if he keeps it up, he hopes the gallery will grow by the end of the week.
Defending champion Sungjae also joined Tom Kim in the big group with a 65, especially impressive because he played on an afternoon when low scores were hard to come by.
Patrick Cantley, who has won and finished two runner-up in his four starts at TPC Summerlin, had a steady diet of birdie opportunities in the 15- to 20-foot range and should have finished with a 67.
The low round for Hoge was unexpected because he had been fishing off the coast of Mexico for the past two weeks, after a long time he wants to put the golf clubs. He hasn’t played much since his PGA Tour victory at Pebble Beach in early February, so the follow-up isn’t surprising, but he’s in the mix for the Presidents Cup selection.
“I didn’t know where things were going to go today,” Hoge said.
After he holed out with a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 6, he hit the hole from 110 yards on No. 7 and hit the pin down the middle for an eagle that fell just short of the cup.
He made three more birdies over the next four holes and then took the bonus with a quick eagle on the 16th.
“It was a fun day,” Hoge said. “I feel like I missed out on some very doable birdies, but I put some nice, long ones for eagle at 16 and some other long ones. I’m really happy with the results, but I’ll have to make more birdies next time. A few days.”