Between Hawaii events, TCU alum Tom Hoge attending college football title game
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Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
Tom Hoge's 223-yard iron to 5 feet and eagle at Sentry
An opportunity to see one’s beloved sports team compete for a championship can be fleeting.
Perhaps not for all fan bases – think New England Patriots – but for most of the sports fan population.
TCU graduate Tom Hoge knows this, and he refuses to let the opportunity pass him by. With TCU set to face Georgia in Monday’s college football national title game in Los Angeles, Hoge has devised an itinerary that allows him the best of both worlds. He’ll attend the game live without impacting his year-opening schedule of the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Sony Open in Hawaii.
After finishing third at the Sentry, Hoge was scheduled to take a Sunday evening red-eye flight from Maui to Los Angeles, and he’ll head from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Tuesday morning.
TCU last claimed a football national title in 1938.
“I had booked everything within the first 20 minutes to an hour after the game,” said Hoge, who quickly sprang into action after TCU defeated Michigan in a memorable New Year’s Eve semifinal matchup at the Fiesta Bowl. “I went to the Fiesta Bowl, stayed with my mom, and by the time we got out of traffic and back to her place, we probably had everything booked in 15 to 20 minutes.”
Hoge earned his spot at the Sentry Tournament of Champions with his maiden TOUR title at last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, marking his first start at Maui. He demonstrated an accelerated learning curve at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, carding a final-round 64 for a 23-under total in his first start of 2023. His final round was highlighted by a remarkable 129-yard approach from thick rough on the par-4 13th hole to near tap-in range.
Hoge wasn’t about to miss his first start at Kapalua, where last place receives $200,000 in the 39-player field, nor did he want to miss the Sony Open in Hawaii. Hoge has a soft spot for Waialae CC, where he finished third place in 2018. It was his career-best PGA TOUR finish at the time and sparked his best season to that point; he proceeded to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time, kick-starting an upward career arc that led to a top-10 finish on last season’s FedExCup.
Life as a traveling professional golfer allows one to develop sharp instincts for travel scheduling, getting creative when necessary. Hoge, 33, put these instincts to good use in devising his itinerary to watch TCU compete for its first football title since before World War II.
“I never thought about skipping Sony; that’s one of my favorite events; I’ve had a lot of success on that course,” Hoge said. “There were some thoughts after I booked flights and hotels and all that stuff, whether I should really go to the game or not, but I think I want to be there for it. So we’ll do both.”
Hoge and his wife Kelly – who attended Montana State but has become an “adopted Horned Frog” – booked a flight for 11 p.m. Sunday, scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles at 7 a.m. Monday. They’ll fly from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Tuesday morning, scheduled to arrive at 1:15 p.m. local time. Then it’s to the golf course and business as usual, hopefully with memories of a national championship.
Hoge is a 2011 TCU grad in accounting and finance, and he was privy to gridiron success while in school; the 2010 Horned Frogs went undefeated and finished the season ranked No. 2. (This was prior to the College Football Playoff era, with Auburn and Oregon selected to compete for the BCS national title. TCU defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.)
Hoge and his wife procured tickets through the TCU allotment, $975 apiece, and he said he’s “thinking about it a little more each day” as game day approaches. This week at Kapalua, he reflected on fellow TCU alum J.J. Henry’s devotion to the Horned Frogs program – there are tales of Henry flying to a game after completing a Saturday morning round, then back to tee off Sunday.
“He’s kind of our idol that we look up to at TCU,” Hoge said of Henry. “My rookie year on TOUR (2014), the Sanderson Farms Championship, TCU was hosting Kansas State. That was a home game in Fort Worth, and he flew from Jackson to Fort Worth on Saturday to get there for the night game, and he came back on Sunday morning for the final round.”
In that context, Hoge’s Hawaii-California round-trip seems like a breeze.
-- Cameron Morfit contributed reporting from Hawaii
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.