Sony Open 2018: Tom Hoge Tops Leaderboard After Saturday Play

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2018

Tom Hoge tees off on the first hole during the third round of the Sony Open golf tournament Saturday Jan. 13, 2018, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Marco Garcia/Associated Press

Tom Hoge took the lead at the 2018 Sony Open in Hawaii on Saturday thanks to a six-under 64 with 18 holes left to play.

Through three rounds, Hoge's score of 16-under par is one shot better than Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman. Kyle Stanley is in fourth place at 14 under par, followed by Chris Kirk at 13 under to round out the top five.

Here's the full leaderboard from the third round of the Sony Open:

Consistency has been key for Hoge to sit alone atop the leaderboard in Hawaii. He had back-to-back rounds of 65 before Saturday's 64.

Since becoming a full-time player on the PGA Tour in 2015, Hoge has just seven top-10 finishes and has never finished higher than tied for fourth. This is uncharted territory for the 28-year-old, so he will have to step up under the spotlight on Sunday as part of the final pairing if he wants his first-ever PGA Tour victory.

Despite being 31 years old, Kizzire has only been a regular on the PGA Tour since the 2016 season. He earned his first victory on the circuit at the OHL Classic in November. He had two top-10 finishes in the two tournaments before that victory.

Kizzire moved into contention on Saturday thanks to a run of five straight birdies from holes six through 10. His lone blemish in the round was a double bogey on the first hole, but he made up for that error by going into the clubhouse with a 31 on the back nine.

Harman started the day in sole possession of the lead at 13 under par. He couldn't reach those low scores from Thursday (64) and Friday (63) on this day, though he did briefly take the lead back on No. 10 with this short birdie putt, as shown by the PGA Tour:

At that point, Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel noted how impressive Harman's performance has been dating back to last week's Tournament of Champions:

Following the second round, Harman noted the difference in his mindset this year stems from missing out on the Presidents Cup team in 2017.

"Missing out on the Presidents Cup hurt," he told reporters. "I didn't feel like I deserved a pick by any means and I would've been happy with one but I didn't feel like I played well enough to make it where it was a snub by any means."

A bogey on the 11th hole knocked Harman back into a tie for the top spot at 14 under. He and Hoge were having their own two-man game of back-and-forth:

Webb Simpson made the biggest move of the day, jumping up 39 spots into a five-way tie for ninth place. He tied for the lowest round of the tournament with a 63, dropping his total to 10-under par.

Justin Thomas, who is the defending champion in this tournament, is another player hanging around on the leaderboard with more work to do in the final round. The 2017 PGA Championship winner had his best showing in Hawaii with a 66 on Saturday, highlighted by this shot over a tree on No. 10 that set up a birdie:

Even though Jordan Spieth has not been a factor atop the leaderboard this weekend, he did have his best round of the tournament with a 66 and didn't hit a single bogey to lower his score to seven-under par.

Spieth has already finished inside the top 10 in his first two PGA Tour events this season, so this isn't exactly a setback for him. Considering how he's rebounded since carding an eight on the eighth hole in Round 1, the fact his score is so low entering the final round is a testament to his talent.

Fabian Gomez won the Sony Open two years ago in a playoff. This year's leaderboard is stacked so that it wouldn't be a surprise if another playoff was in store. No one has been able to sustain enough momentum to separate himself from the pack, setting the stage for a tense finish in Sunday's final round.

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