Monday qualifier takes Players Cup lead

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:21 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Through 36 holes, Tom Hoge is authoring the type of story generally reserved for motion pictures.

While there is plenty of golf left to be played, the recently-turned pro from Fargo, N.D. — playing in just his third professional tournament — continued his storybook week in Winnipeg by carding a 4-under 67 at Pine Ridge Golf Club on Friday to take the lead after two rounds of the $200,000 Canadian Tour Players Cup hosted by Jonathan Toews.

Hoge, who carded a 66 in Round 1, earned his spot in the 156-player field by shooting a 72 in the Monday qualifier at Elmhurst and now he’s standing atop the leaderboard with 36 holes left to go, holding a one-shot lead over first-round leader Josh Habig, who followed up a 65 with a 69 to sit at 8-under 135.

“The thing about this course is that it’s very strictly defined — where your scoring holes are and its let’s-take-a-par-and-get-out holes,” said Habig, who won the Manitoba event back in 2006. “I’ve done a good job of kind of weathering the hard holes and hopefully, I can keep making birdies on the scoring holes.”

Hoge, who recently completed his senior season at Texas Christian University, finished tied for 46th at the Dakota Dunes Casino Open in his Canadian Tour debut last week and nearly missed his tee time Monday due to some faulty directions he was given.

Dustin Risdon of Calgary shot 68 to move to 7-under while Devin Carrey of Surrey, B.C., Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C. are tied for fourth at 136 with Americans Chris Killmer and Brian Prouty, who shot the low round of the day at 6-under 65.

“It was all putting, I had 27 after 32 (Thursday),” said Prouty. “I’ve been hitting it really well actually and I just made some putts. A lot more dropped, or at least that’s how it felt. You can’t press too hard out here because if you do, you’ll make mistakes.”

American Garrett Sapp and Hugo Leon of Chile sit four strokes off the pace, while among those lurking in the weeds at 4-under 138 are Mike Mezei of Lethbridge, Alta., who secured his first Canadian Tour victory at Pine Ridge back in 2007.

Just two of the 16 Manitobans in the field managed to make the cut and advance to weekend play.

Brad Kirton of Pine Ridge followed up a 68 with a 1-over 72 and sits tied for 21st, while Rob McMillan of Pine Ridge shot a 1-under 70 to leave him at 1-under 141.

McMillan, the last Manitoban to win this event (back in 1996), is hoping to conjure up a little magic on his home course on the weekend and for that to happen, he’ll need to putt better.

“When I’ve hit my lines, I’ve read them wrong and when I’ve known the line I haven’t even been close to the line — not a good combo,” said McMillan, who rolled in a birdie on his final hole, the ninth, to finish strong. “If I can make some putts, I could get in (contention). You never know.”


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