Hoge wins Bobcat North Dakota Open with tourney-record score

FARGO — There has been a lot to celebrate in the world of professional golf for Tom Hoge, from playing in the same pairing as Tiger in front of thousands to some pretty hefty paydays in his three-year PGA career. On Sunday afternoon, he got to celebrate something else for the first time since 2011.

A tournament victory. And he did it in style in the Bobcat North Dakota Open at the Fargo Country Club.

Hoge, on his home course, followed tying a course-record 63 on Saturday with a 64 on Sunday to beat the Bobcat tourney record by two shots. He finished 20-under par 196 for the three days.

He won the Bobcat amateur tourney in 2006 before his senior year at Fargo South but this one carried two more factors: a $10,000 first place check and much-needed momentum heading into the Web.com playoffs that start later this week.

Hoge’s status on the PGA Tour is such that he needs to finish in the top 25 of the Web.com tourney to get his PGA Tour Card back. Certainly, having a Dakotas Tour victory makes for a good send-off.

“There’s a process to winning and I felt good about how I handled the day, hung in there pretty well and took care of what I needed to do,” he said.

It wasn’t easy and Andrew McCain from Knoxville, Tenn., in his first professional tournament, made sure of it. McCain chipped in for eagle on No. 11 cutting Hoge’s three-shot lead to one. Hoge’s birdie on No. 13 made it a two-shot margin.

“It was a good battle,” McCain said.

The permanent separation came on the par-5 17th when Hoge stuck a hybrid club from 245 yards to within 10 feet. McCain went left, chipped over the green and Hoge’s birdie made it a three-shot lead with one to play. Nonetheless, McCain at least left Fargo with the knowledge he can go toe-to-toe with a PGA Tour player.

“It’s fun to be able to compare yourself or even know that you’re there, know that you can play that kind of golf,” he said.

It’s the kind of golf that got Hoge on the PGA Tour in the first place. He called it nothing flashy, just hitting good drives and putting well.

“That’s a good recipe out here,” he said.

His last victory came in 2011 on the Canadian Tour. He gave the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship a run earlier this month before finishing in a tie for fourth.

“The Web.com is four of the next five weeks and hopefully I can keep playing like I am,” Hoge said. “For me, I grew up out here, played in this for the first time when I was 12 or 13. I’ve been around the tournament a lot growing up here at the Fargo Country Club so to see everybody here following me, it was lot of fun out there today.”

William Leaf and Grady Meyer tied for the amateur title at 211 over three days with Leaf shooting a final-round 66 and Meyer 69.