After using that unflappable demeanor to keep control of the 3M Open, Hodges finally let loose.
Hodges shot a 67 in the final round on Sunday for a wire-to-wire title at the 3M Open and his first tour victory, setting tournament records with a 260 and a seven-stroke win.
“The process I went through, I’ll take this week forever,” Hodges said. “I’ll just try to keep replicating this week every time I show up to a tournament.”
Hodges, who started the day with a five-stroke lead on J.T. Poston, was up by 3 entering the par-5 last hole on his 65th career start. After Poston’s go-for-broke approach yielded a triple bogey, Hodges tapped in a short putt for his third birdie of the round.
“I had to try and give it a shot and see if there was some way I could make 3 there at the end and put some pressure on Lee,” Poston said.
Lee, a 28-year-old Alabama native, hugged and hoisted his wife, Savannah, in celebration after she hustled out to the green to greet him. Then Jay Seawell, Hodges’ college coach at Alabama, surprised him with a special appearance and a milkshake in hand. Not bad for a guy from the small town of Ardmore.
“I’m super proud to be from there and represent those people,” Hodges said. “Man, I’m sure there is a party going on in north Alabama right now.”
Tony Finau, the defending champion and highest-ranked player at 10th in the FedEx Cup standings participating in this field, shot a 70 to land in a three-way tie for seventh.
Hodges shot a 63 on Thursday, a 64 on Friday and a 66 on Saturday to take a commanding lead into the final round at the TPC Twin Cities course in Blaine on a former sod farm in suburban Minneapolis. He had two eagles and two bogeys on Sunday, following an aggressive approach.
With one previous top-three finish in 2022 at The American Express in La Quinta, California, Hodges said Saturday he couldn’t recall a five-shot lead in his entire career, amateur competition included, and felt as if he was “playing with house money” with his place on the tour next season secured.
“Last night, me and my wife, we ate dinner here, and then we went to get some ice cream, and I slept like a baby,” Hodges said.
Entering the week in 74th place in the FedEx Cup standings, Hodges soared to 33rd with the $1.4 million prize for the win. He became the 23rd third-round leader or co-leader to win on tour this season, following Brian Harman last week at the British Open.
Poston entered the week in 60th place in the FedEx Cup standings and shot up to 38th.
Hodges set the 54-hole tournament record at 193, two strokes better than the score Scott Piercy took into the final round last year. Piercy proceeded to shoot a 76, including a triple bogey on No. 14, and squander a five-stroke lead with 11 holes to go. Finau shot a 67 and won the trophy by three strokes.
Hodges avoided that fate. His lead was cut from 6 to 4 when he three-putted the 15th hole and Poston, his final-round playing partner, smacked his second shot from the fairway to the green about 7 feet from the cup for his fourth birdie of the afternoon. But Hodges bounced right back to match Poston’s birdie on 16.
“He played great all day. We knew it was going to take something pretty special to pull it off,” Poston said.
Poston’s second shot from the rough on the edge of the water glanced off the rocks on the retaining wall and ricocheted backward off the floating tournament logo before a splash that cost him a penalty stroke. His fifth shot rolled down the slope on the front of the green, and he overshot his first putt.
Beau Hossler gave his postseason bid a bump with a blistering 62 in the final round to tie the course record and finish at 13 under for the tournament, tied for 13th place. Piercy, Bryson DeChambeau, Lucas Glover and champion Matthew Wolff each shot a 62 during the inaugural event in 2019.
The 28-year-old Hossler entered the week in 62nd place on the FedEx Cup standings. The top 70 players qualify for the three-stage playoff event that begins Aug. 10 with the St. Jude Championship. There’s one more stop on the tour next weekend at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, to move up — or slide down.
Hossler made eight straight birdies from holes 9 through 16, one short of the PGA Tour record. That included a 45-foot putt he holed on his second shot on No. 13 that, he said, had “no business” going in.