HONOLULU (AP) — Tom Hoge was too caught up watching college basketball in his hotel room to be bothered with a push alert — a false alarm, as it turned out — that a ballistic missile was headed toward Hawaii.
He showed a steady hand on the golf course, too, even as the leaderboard at the Sony Open became increasingly crowded.
Hoge finished off a 6-under 64 by holing a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th, and then hitting a 40-yard bunker shot to within 3 feet for a birdie on the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club for a one-shot lead.
Hoge was at 16-under 194, one shot ahead of Brian Harman (68) and Patton Kizzire, who recovered from a double bogey on his opening hole and shot 64. Another shot behind was Kyle Stanley (65).
Seven players were separated by four shots, a big difference from a year ago when Justin Thomas led by seven going into the final round of his wire-to-wire victory.
Hoge has never led going to the final round on the PGA Tour in his 75 previous starts. He has never won.
“A new position,” Hoge said. “It’s a good one, obviously. I’ve been close to the lead a few times in the fall, so a little bit to draw on there. Haven’t quite pulled it off yet. Just getting a little more belief in myself and hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day for me.”
It should be a day where everyone can breathe a little easier compared with how Saturday began.
Hawaii was buzzing — literally — when the push alert came through on mobile phones across the island shortly after 8 a.m. alerting of a missile. It said to seek shelter and that it was not a drill.
“I was watching the TCU basketball game at the time, so I was a little frustrated with that,” he said of his alma mater ultimately losing to Oklahoma. “The missile was kind of off my radar on that one. I don’t even know what you do for a missile. So I wasn’t really freaking out or anything. Some other people were around us. If it’s going to be your last day, it’s going to be your last day, right?