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Kyle Hogan picked the perfect time to win his first college tournament.
Not only did the Texas Tech senior capture the Maridoe Collegiate Invitational by a shot over Oklahoma State’s Austin Eckroat and Pepperdine’s Dylan Menante on Tuesday, but he also earned an exemption into next month’s Houston Open. It will be Hogan’s first PGA Tour start, and it comes at Hogan’s hometown Tour stop.
“It’s nice to get the win and validate the work that I’ve been doing,” said Hogan, who hails from Cypress, about 30 minutes outside of Houston. “But to also get the exemption, it’s huge to have that opportunity.”
It’s an opportunity that Hogan certainly wasn’t expecting. He had been mired in a nearly three-month-long slump that began when he shot 82 in the final round of stroke play at the Western Amateur to miss out on match play. The struggles continued at the U.S. Amateur, where he beat just one player in the 263-person field, and carried into the fall, as Hogan failed to make the starting lineup for each of the Red Raiders’ first three tournaments.
“It was a pretty rough few months,” Hogan said. “I had about zero confidence for a while there. It started off the tee, but then I lost confidence slowly and it trickled down to every part of my game.”
Hogan’s low point came during the team’s qualifier for its fall opener at Colonial. After just nine holes, Hogan had had enough and walked off the course.
“I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Hogan, who decided to put the clubs away for a bit. His coaches agreed with the decision.
“It was tough to see him work so hard, really play some great golf this summer, and then have it crumble away and lose confidence,” Texas Tech head coach Greg Sands said. “He’s always been real positive, but the game finally kind of broke him. When he got to the point where he couldn’t bring that confidence, he’s like, ‘I need to step away or I’m not going to be productive for myself and the team.’”
Hogan ended up taking five days off. When he returned, he didn’t see instant results – he missed traveling to the Big 12 Match Play and then finished ninth in the team’s qualifier for Maridoe – but Sands could see the signs: Hogan was reinvigorated at practice and nearing a turnaround.
With three individual spots at his disposal, Sands decided to give one to Hogan.
After weeks of grinding away in practice, everything clicked for Hogan at Maridoe, known as one of the toughest tracks in college golf. He opened with a 2-over 74 on a difficult scoring day and then moved into contention with a second-round 68. On the final day, he built a nice cushion before a double bogey on his penultimate hole knocked him back to 1 under.