Another cliff-hanger at Pebble Beach, this one memorable for Tom Hoge, who delivered all the right shots on the back nine Sunday to surge past Jordan Spieth and win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his first PGA Tour title.
Hoge, one of seven players who had at least a share of the lead in the final round, came within inches of holing out from the 16th fairway, tapping in for birdie to catch Spieth. Then after Spieth made bogey from the bunker on the par-3 17th, Hoge rolled in a birdie from just outside 20 feet.
He closed with a par for a 4-under 68.
“It’s awesome,” Hoge said. “I’ve worked through so many hard times.”
The 32-year-old Hoge, who grew up in North Dakota, had been runner-up twice in his previous 202 starts on the PGA Tour, most recently at The American Express two weeks ago.
His time came amid the magnificent setting of Pebble Beach under a clear California sky, and it didn’t come easily with so many players in the mix for so long.
“I’m almost a little in shock,” Hoge said. “It’s been so long since I won anything that I forgot how to celebrate.”
Spieth looked like a winner when he birdied the 12th and 13th holes, and he reached the 15th tee with a two-shot lead. But he missed a 5-foot par putt on the 17th, and only as he stood under the pine in fairway on the par-5 18th did he realize he needed an eagle.
He caught a sandy lie that left him in a fairway bunker, and the best he could do was par for a 69. Hoge had to wait for Beau Hossler, one of three players who shared the 54-hole lead, who needed eagle on the 18th to force a playoff.
Hossler sent his fairway metal right into a bunker, blasted out long, and three-putted for bogey for a 71 to finish alone in third.
Hoge earned his first trip to Augusta National for the Masters, along with getting a two-year exemption. Until this year, his best season on the PGA Tour was in 2020 when he was 50th in the FedEx Cup and won just over $1.8 million.
Hoge, who finished at 19-under 268, earned $1,566,000.
So many others had chances, including Patrick Cantlay, at No. 4 the highest-ranked player in the world at Pebble Beach. He opened with two birdies and was still atop the leaderboard until a bogey at the eighth that left the final three hours wide open.
Cantlay didn't make another birdie until the 18th when it was too late. He spent most of the back nine scrambling for par and his luck finally ran out on the 15th and 16th hole. He shot 71 and tied for fourth along with Troy Merritt (67).
Joel Dahmen (72) and Andrew Putnam (73) also had a share of the lead during the final round. They were in the group that tied for sixth.
Spieth won at Pebble in 2017, had a two-shot lead going into the final round last year and had everything seemingly in his favor. That includes the signature moment of this week, when he had his left foot planted on the edge of a 60-foot cliff on the eighth hole Saturday that only gave him anxiety after he realized the risk he had taken.
His hopes began to fade with an 8-iron he was starting down on the 17th, shocked that it came up short and in the sand.
“Maybe my best swing of the day,” he said. “I thought it was going to be 2 feet.”
Instead, he blasted out 5 feet long and hit the putt too hard to take the left-to-right break.
Hoge hit the ball so pure on the back nine that he had a birdie putt from inside 20 feet on every hole until he got to the 17th, and that's where he made the biggest putt of his career.
Hoge, who played college golf at TCU, has been on the PGA Tour since 2015. He started out on the Canadian tour, where he won in 2011.
Asian — Harold Varner III holed a 90-foot putt for eagle on the final hole to go from one shot behind to a stunning victory in the Saudi International in King Abdullah Economic City.
Varner finished with a 1-under 69 for his second victory worldwide. This was an Asian Tour event; and Varner previously won the Australia PGA.
Varner faced a tough task to even two-putt for birdie and force a playoff with Bubba Watson. He did one better, a putt that went from one end of the 18th green to the other. Varner threw his putter to the ground and pumped his arms to celebrate.
“There’s been times where it just didn’t go my way and today it did,” Varner said. “Worst-case scenario, we’ll go to a playoff and I’d get him there. And then it went in, and emotions came out. I love that.”
Varner finished at 13-under 267. He won $1 million from the $5 million prize fund, along with whatever appearance money he received from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund that attracted 21 of the top 50 players in the world.
The victory moves Varner, who was at No. 99, into the top 50 for the first time. If he can stay there for two more months, he would get to the Masters for the first time.
Varner also birdied the 17th, just the finish he needed to deny Watson, who closed with a 64.
Watson jogged over from the clubhouse to congratulate Varner.
“I’m not mad at him for beating me. I’m happy for him. He’s a dear friend of mine, and I applaud him. I love seeing that,” Watson said.
Adri Arnaus of Spain had a 71 to finish three shots behind. Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 70 and tied for eighth.