Hoge enters Pebble Beach defense with wealth of new experience

Tom Hoge’s maiden PGA Tour title at Pebble Beach last year opened up a wealth of opportunities, but he opted for the events he’d long cherished over the high paying LIV Golf series.

Hoge, speaking before launching his title defense at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, said there were “discussions” with the Saudi-backed LIV tour that has split the golf world but that he never received a formal offer.

But the reported sums being offered to golfers who signed up did have him thinking about how he would have responded to one.

“The biggest thing for me is that I had won for the first time. I was making the decision a few months afterwards, and there were so many tournaments I’ve wanted to play in for the first time — tournaments I grew up (watching), Tour Championship, Maui, those sort of tournaments.

“And when I went to bed at night, I wasn’t ready to give those up.”

But the 33-year-old acknowledged that had a firm offer come, with millions in guaranteed money that could assure his family’s security, it wouldn’t have been an easy decision.

“If I trip walking off this stage and hurt my wrist or something that I might never make a dollar again,” he said. “You’ve got insurance for that, but it still isn’t the same as making it on the golf course.

“You almost look at it more for your family and wife and future kids that you almost feel a bit obligated to look at that money and take it.”

Last year at Pebble Beach, Hoge out-dueled former world number one Jordan Spieth down the stretch to win his first Tour title in his 203rd start.

The breakthrough win led to a first trip to Europe that included a berth in the Open Championship at St. Andrews.

After he missed the cut at the Scottish Open, he went to St. Andrews on the weekend before the Open — and marveled at the crowd that turned out to watch Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas play a practice round.

“I would say that my trips over there have certainly changed how I look at golf a little bit over here, through more of a golf architecture lens,” Hoge said. “Things make a little more sense after seeing that.

“So much of what we do (in the US) is just hit it far and go chase it and do the same thing again, and you really do have to have a lot of shots over there.”

© Agence France-Presse

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