Tom Hoge won’t need to worry about getting directions for a Monday qualifier on the Canadian Tour anytime soon.
The Fargo, N.D., product showed nerves of steel by carding a 5-under 66 at Pine Ridge Golf Club during the final round to capture the $200,000 Canadian Tour Players Cup by two strokes over Benjamin Alvarado of Chile.
Playing just his third professional tournament, Hoge — who began the day one shot off the lead — finished at 16-under 268, marking the first time a Monday qualifier has won on the Canadian Tour.
“It’s incredible,” said Hoge, who turned pro six weeks ago after finishing his career at Texas Christian University and had his father Chuck serving as caddie this week. “You never really know what to expect out there, kind of your first time in the lead and I felt great the whole day. I was swinging well, putting well and I had a lot of confidence. I knew I was going to succeed.
“Walking up 18 was such a cool feeling.”
Hoge’s week got off to a bit of a shaky start — through no fault of his own — as he only arrived after 2 a.m. after driving from Saskatoon, where last week’s Canadian Tour event was held.
After receiving some faulty directions, he nearly missed his tee time for the Monday qualifier at Elmhurst, arriving with 10 minutes to spare.
“There were about 10 wrong turns,” Hoge said. “To make a long story short, the front desk at the hotel gave us a Mapquest that was supposed to go to Elmhurst Country Club but went to Elmhurst Road.”
Hoge collected himself, shot a 72 and made birdie on the first playoff hole to secure a spot, going on to claim his first professional victory.
Hoge earned an automatic exemption into the $5 million RBC Canadian Open this week at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club near Vancouver, not to mention a two-year exemption on the Canadian Tour.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Hoge said. “It’s going to be so much fun teeing it up with all those guys you see on TV. It’s always where I’ve dreamt of playing.”
Josh Habig, who led after the first and third rounds, finished with two birdies on the final three holes but slipped to a 1-over 72 on Sunday to leave him tied for third spot at 11-under 273.
“I felt like it was just sloppy out there on a couple of those swings, that was really the difference,” said Habig, who won the 2006 MTS Classic at Pine Ridge. “I made plenty of birdies, I just didn’t take care of my business on a couple of those tee balls.”
The low round of the day — and of the tourney — went to Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., who carded a 7-under 64 to vault into seventh place.
CHIP SHOTS: Jose Rodriguez, Huge Leon, Roger Sloan, Dustin Risdon and Alvarado earned the other five Canadian Tour exemptions for the Canadian Open based on their standing on the 2011 Order of Merit ... Ryan Hart, executive director for the Canadian Tour Players Cup hosted by Jonathan Toews, said attendance for the week’s events will exceed 5,000 fans, a big boost from 880 last year.