HONOLULU (AP) – A false missile alert didn’t bother Tom Hoge, and he was just as steady on the golf course with two late birdies Saturday for a 6-under 64 and a one-shot lead in the Sony Open as he goes for his first PGA Tour victory.
Hoge holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to tie for the lead, and then got up-and-down from 40 yards away in a bunker on the par-5 18th.
He once shared the 36-hole lead with Tiger Woods at the Wyndham Championship, the last tournament Woods played before two back surgeries in the fall of 2015. This will be the first 54-hole lead for Hoge, a 28-year-old from North Dakota.
But it there was uncertainty about the accidental push alert about an incoming ballistic missile that unsettled the islands, a different variety awaits at Waialae Country Club. No one can be sure what to expect in a final round with so many players right in the mix.
Hoge was at 16-under 194, one shot ahead of Brian Harman (68) and Patton Kizzire, who recovered from a double bogey on his opening hole and shot 64. Another shot behind was Kyle Stanley (65).
Seven players were separated by four shots, a big difference from a year ago when Justin Thomas led by seven going into the final round of his wire-to-wire victory.
“There’s a lot of birdies out there,” Kizzire said. “You just have to make the most.”
Thomas had a wild start – bogey on No. 1, holing out from 175 yards for eagle on No. 2, another bogey on No. 3. He settled down for a 66 and was six shots back, with other eight players ahead of him.
“You can go shoot 8 or 9 under in a heartbeat out here,” Thomas said. “It’s hard if you’re five back and you’re in 15th or 20th as opposed to five back and you’re in sixth or seventh. We’ll just wait and see.”
The late starting time Saturday meant hardly anyone was at Waialae when the push alert warned of an incoming missile with orders to seek shelter. There was panic across the island. J.J. Spaun tweeted that he was in the basement of his hotel. John Peterson tweeted that he was in a bathtub with his family covered by mattresses.
He was more upset watching his alma mater, TCU, losing a basketball game to Oklahoma.
“I don’t know what you do for a missile,” he said.
He figured out how to handle Waialae on another warm, sunny and missile-free day. Hoge was bogey-free, picking up birdies with good tee shots on some of the shorter holes, knocking in the long putt on the 17th and finishing with a birdie.
Five players had at least a share of the lead at some point, and Harman was never too far from the mix. It was a steady performance, just not as low as the players chasing him, and he failed to hit his bunker shot close on the 18th, two-putting from 25 feet for par.
Even so, he’ll be in the last group in Hawaii for the second straight week, and Kapalua winner Dustin Johnson already is on his way to Abu Dhabi.
Jordan Spieth never got much going again and headed to the putting green after his round for more work. He only made four birdies in his bogey-free round of 66, but that left him nine shots behind.
For most players, the talk of the day was the push alert that turned out to be a mistake.
“It was pretty scary at the hotel when they came over the loud speaker and said, `Everyone take shelter, this isn’t a drill,”‘ Spieth said.