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Tony Finau’s Fortunes

Finau's Fortunes

Eight runner-up finishes, three in playoffs, over five-plus years and 142 tournaments. Not long ago, golf Twitter was obsessed with the Tony Finau win drought, but he won THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2021 to end the drought, and under a year later let it rain with victories in back-to-back weeks in July, following up in November with his fifth PGA TOUR title by winning the Cadence Bank Houston Open.

Fresh Start

Finau erased a five-stroke deficit in 11 holes to capture the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities, then pulled away on the back nine for his second victory in as many weeks at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. His 26-under total set a new tournament record as he became one of nine players to win multiple titles in 2022.

He was also the first since Brendon Todd in 2019 to win in consecutive weeks in the regular season. “I’m very optimistic,” Finau said, openly addressing his tough losses. “I’ve always been that way. I’ve always had hope and faith that things will turn out if I just keep working hard and putting myself there.”

The Right Stuff

If success is getting knocked down seven times and getting up eight, Finau is Exhibit A for golf. His most agonizing loss may have been the 2020 WM Phoenix Open, where he ran out of birdies and was caught and overtaken by Webb Simpson, who won in a playoff. Finau’s eldest son, Jraice, was in tears, but Tony, the 2016 Puerto Rico Open champion, reasoned that if he kept putting himself in pressure situations, kept learning more about his tendencies, he would eventually figure it out and find the right formula.

He did so in 2022, doubling his win total, collecting a quick 1,000 FedExCup points, and all but making the U.S. Presidents Cup Team on points, checking a box on his preseason to do list.

“I’m proud of the way that I fought through adversity through my career,” Finau said, “and now I’m a back-to-back champion. … They say a winner is just a loser that just kept on trying, and that’s me to a T. How many times do I lose? But one thing I won’t do is give up and I’m only here as a winner because I chose not to give up and just keep going.”

Tense Moments

Scottie Scheffler had the best season with four wins, including the Masters and WGCDell Technologies Match Play, in six starts inthe spring. Xander Schauffele won in back-toback starts in June, Sam Burns collected three trophies, and Max Homa had his best year ever. Finau, however, was the Best of the Midwest.

There were tense moments, but he didn’t panic when his ball hit a grandstand and nearly ricocheted into the water on the 17th hole at the 3M. He saved par. When his tee shot did find the water at the par-5 18th hole, he took a bogey for a final-round 67 and the win.

At the Rocket Mortgage, Finau pulled his tee shot at the par-3 ninth and hit his pitch shot 11 feet past the hole. If he made bogey, Taylor Pendrith would be one back. Patrick Cantlay, who had turned in 31, would be two back. But Finau charged his putt, and the ball lipped in. Seizing the momentum, he shot a back-nine 33 to pull away.

All told, Finau hit 46 of 56 fairways and 66 of 72 greens in regulation. He was No. 1 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and scrambling (six for six) and ranked 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting (+4.478). Finau, who won for the first time in six attempts holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, was in a class by himself.

“Some of those putts haven’t gone my way in the past, I feel like, where they’re lipping out instead of lipping in,” he said.

His caddie, Mark Urbanek, added “Sometimes those par putts feel bigger even than the birdies, especially on a course like this, where you feel like you’re losing more than one shot with a bogey. That was a nasty lie over there on nine; that was a good up and down.”

The 3M marked the first time Finau’s entire family had seen him win. For the Rocket Mortgage, only his wife, Alayna, was in attendance, having flown from their home in Utah late Saturday.

“I’m not surprised to see this,” she said. “He’s worked so hard. But it does feel cool.”

Tony Finau, who turned 33 in September, has 10 top-10 finishes in the majors since 2015, but he points out he’s not the same player he was even a few years ago. He’s better. A victory in a major or at THE PLAYERS Championship, to say nothing of winning the entire FedExCup, would be very cool indeed.