Los Angeles – Tom Hoge fired a bogey-free, five-under-par 65 on Thursday to share the opening-round lead at the PGA Tour’s $6.2 million St. Jude Classic.
Shawn Stefani and South Korea’s Noh Seung-Yul also carded 65s while Dustin Johnson, Brian Gay, Steve Stricker, Colt Knost, Argentina’s Miguel Angel Carballo and Wales’ Jamie Donaldson shared fourth place at 66.
“The key to the round was hole nine. I had to lay up to 130 (yards). I was able to get up and down and keep the momentum going,” the 27-year-old Hoge said.
Eight players, including Justin Leonard and South Africa’s Retief Goosen, are tied for 10th at 67 at the TPC Southwind course.
Hoge made consecutive birdies on numbers four, five and six, then added another two straight at No. 12 and 13.
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start there,” said Hoge, who is ranked 237th in the world. “I was in good position the first few holes and didn’t hit it close at all. Luckily, I pieced together a few good shots.”
Hoge is appearing in his 45th career PGA Tour event, and is still looking for his first career win.
He posted his first two top-10 finishes earlier this season, comprising a pair of ties for ninth at the RSM Classic and the Valero Texas Open.
He failed to make the cut in seven of 17 tournaments this season.
Noh, 25, is seeking his second win on the PGA Tour in his 132nd event. In 2014, he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Leading first round scores in the $6.2 million St. Jude Classic at the TPC Southwind course (par 70):
65 – Noh Seung-Yul (KOR), Tom Hoge, Shawn Stefani
66 – Jamie Donaldson (WAL), Brian Gay, Dustin Johnson, Steve Stricker, Colt Knost, Miguel Angel Carballo (ARG)
– Henrik Norlander (SWE), Brian Stuard, Retief Goosen (RSA), Justin
Leonard, Brett Stegmaier, Daniel Berger, Scott Stallings, Wes Roach