For Finau -- Finish or Falter?

The Northern Trust / 2021

Finau- Finish or Falter?

Finau- Finish or Falter?
(AP Photo/Andy Clayton- King)

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes


JERSEY CITY, NJ. The process of being a successful tour professional is one that comes at a different pace for different players. Yes, there are those cases where someone turns professional and has instant stardom such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.


Finau- Finish or Falter?

But for the bulk of those looking to attain stardom among the best players in the world, it means going through a learning curve that evolves through different phases.  The first step is simply getting to the PGA TOUR. The next step is remaining there and that usually entails making cuts and having earned enough prize money to stay within the top 125.

The next step of development is getting into contention — being in the hunt and demonstrating the capacity to play with the world’s best. The next level is the hardest one — closing out tournaments with one’s name cemented on the trophy.


Finau- Finish or Falter?

Tony Finau has been on the PGA TOUR since the 2014-15 season. In the years since he has climbed the laborious ladder to be rightly listed as one of the upper echelon players in the sport.

Being able to thrust his name up leaderboards has been something Finau has been able to do with regularity when his game is firing on all cylinders. The long deficiency rests in being able to add a few wins to his ledger. Thus far, he has only one win on the PGA TOUR. To Finau’s credit he has displayed amazing consistency — tying a PGA TOUR record of 30 top ten finishes over a four-year period (2017-2020) without a win achieved. 


Finau- Finish or Falter?

Certainly, his consistency is a plus, however, his inability to finish off events remains a bewildering question mark and a nagging element all players face until it’s been put in a rear-view mirror permanently. Finau is aware of this reality and is candid in dealing with pesky media constantly mentioning it.

“Yeah, I’m motivated to win. I think whatever else comes with that, and you guys can stop talking about, whatever comes with it, it comes with it.”

The 31-year-old’s talent is clearly present. His wherewithal to hit tee shots prodigious distances — averaging just over 318 yards this week — fits in well with today’s power game players. The main concern? A balky putter at times that’s been unable to provide the kind of final round separation that moves a player into the winner’s circle.

Finau’s highest placement in the world golf rankings has been 9th — coming in December 2018. Finau started 2021 in the 19th position and has slid down three slots to 22nd. 

Finau- Finish or Falter?
(Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

Finau- Finish or Falter?

The stakes are high for the top players competing this week at Liberty National Golf Club — the first leg of this year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. Through the first 36-holes Finau has played superbly — scoring 67-64 and been just one shot behind leader and world number one Jon Rahm.

The opportunity for Finau this weekend is to do what has been difficult to do previously — break through and earn a clear career changing triumph.

Hanging in the balance is another concern of interest — securing a return to the USA Ryder Cup Team with the event in just over a month’s time in Wisconsin. Finau made his first international team when picked by American Captain Jim Furyk for the 2018 Ryder Cup team in Paris and he followed that up with a selection for the 2019 Presidents Cup Team.

Securing a win this week would likely cement a position on the American team but for that to happen Finau will have to take down the likes of Rahm and such talented players as Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele who are just two shots off the pace.


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Finau- Finish or Falter?

“I feel like I’ve played some nice golf. My last couple tournaments, the results haven’t shown I’ve played great, but I’ve played some really clean golf. I felt like I was really close to putting it all together, and so far this week, after 36 holes, I’ve kind of done that. I’ve played some clean golf and more putts have dropped, so you kind of find yourself at the top of the leaderboard when that happens,” said Finau following his second round.

But the shadow of the Ryder Cup looms and Finau stated a straightforward reply when asked.

“You try to have your game do the talking. At this point, I think that’s what it’s all about. Everybody wants to make the team. I’m included in that. I would love to be a part of that team. But at this point in the season, our games have to do the talking and I’m happy with the start of the Playoffs, and I’ve got to keep playing well I think to make the team.”

Finau’s 3rd round pairing with Rahm provides a meaningful juxtaposition to the Spaniard’s game and provide a clear benchmark in terms of how well the Utah native has truly progressed. Coming into this year there were questions Rahm needed to answer and he clearly elevated his stature with the gutsy win at the U.S. Open with back-to-back birdies at the final two holes for his first major championship. 


Finau- Finish or Falter?

For Finau to get where he wants to go — he will need to bring to the forefront the capacity to raise his game to an even higher level. The truly gifted players do that. For a number of others — the inability to do so can cast even more lasting doubt and build scar tissue on whether the victory wall can be breached.

Finau see the weekend ahead as a clear opportunity.

“To me I’m more motivated to win. I’ve worked extremely hard on my body, on my mind, and I’ve done a lot of work on myself to just be better and try to be a better person and be a better golfer. I feel like I’ve accomplished some of those things, and hopefully getting a W just for myself to feel accomplished would be a great thing.”

Closing out tournaments is the hardest aspect at the highest levels of professional golf. Undoubtedly, execution is needed but a certain amount of karma is also involved.

Finau’s journey takes on added meaning this weekend and no one know that better than Tony. Will he finish or falter? That remains the crucial question to be answered with two rounds to go.


+ + + + + + + + +
Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
R2
Total
1
Jon Rahm *
-12
63
67
130
2
Tony Finau
-11
67
64
131
T3
Keith Mitchell *
-10
68
64
132
T3
Xander Schauffele
-10
70
62
132
T3
Justin Thomas *
-10
63
69
132
T6
Tom Hoge *
-9
69
64
133
T6
Kevin Na
-9
67
66
133
T6
Alex Noren
-9
69
64
133
T6
Harold Varner III
-9
66
67
133
T10
Brooks Koepka
-8
70
64
134
T10
Jordan Spieth
-8
72
62
134
T12
Patrick Cantlay
-7
68
67
135
T12
Viktor Hovland
-7
68
67
135
T12
Robert Streb *
-7
67
68
135
T12
Cameron Tringale *
-7
67
68
135
T12
Lee Westwood
-7
70
65
135
T17
Keegan Bradley *
-6
69
67
136
T17
Bryson DeChambeau *
-6
71
65
136
T17
Mackenzie Hughes
-6
67
69
136
T17
Sungjae Im
-6
71
65
136
T17
Zach Johnson
-6
70
66
136
T17
Hudson Swafford
-6
71
65
136
T17
Aaron Wise *
-6
69
67
136
T17
Erik van Rooyen
-6
69
67
136
T25
Harris English *
-5
69
68
137
T25
Lanto Griffin *
-5
69
68
137
T25
Garrick Higgo
-5
69
68
137
T25
Patton Kizzire
-5
70
67
137
T25
Hideki Matsuyama
-5
69
68
137
T25
Sebastián Muñoz *
-5
68
69
137
T25
Pat Perez *
-5
71
66
137
T25
Seamus Power
-5
70
67
137
T25
Chez Reavie
-5
71
66
137
T25
Adam Schenk *
-5
73
64
137
T25
Cameron Smith
-5
69
68
137
T36
Sam Burns *
-4
71
67
138
T36
Cameron Champ
-4
68
70
138
T36
Joel Dahmen *
-4
70
68
138
T36
Brian Harman
-4
72
66
138
T36
Charley Hoffman *
-4
73
65
138
T36
Anirban Lahiri
-4
69
69
138
T36
Shane Lowry
-4
71
67
138
T36
Ian Poulter *
-4
72
66
138
T36
Scottie Scheffler *
-4
70
68
138
T36
Webb Simpson *
-4
72
66
138
T46
Stewart Cink *
-3
71
68
139
T46
Corey Conners *
-3
70
69
139
T46
Cam Davis
-3
69
70
139
T46
Harry Higgs
-3
69
70
139
T46
K.H. Lee *
-3
71
68
139
T46
Marc Leishman *
-3
69
70
139
T46
Peter Malnati *
-3
70
69
139
T46
Maverick McNealy *
-3
69
70
139
T46
Carlos Ortiz
-3
69
70
139
T46
Andrew Putnam
-3
69
70
139
T46
Kevin Streelman *
-3
69
70
139
T57
Talor Gooch *
-2
73
67
140
T57
Russell Henley *
-2
69
71
140
T57
Kramer Hickok
-2
72
68
140
T57
Max Homa *
-2
74
66
140
T57
Chris Kirk
-2
72
68
140
T57
Brandt Snedeker
-2
72
68
140
T63
Abraham Ancer *
-1
72
69
141
T63
Daniel Berger *
-1
71
70
141
T63
Paul Casey *
-1
70
71
141
T63
Dylan Frittelli *
-1
70
71
141
T63
Doug Ghim *
-1
71
70
141
T63
James Hahn
-1
71
70
141
T63
Billy Horschel
-1
71
70
141
T63
Luke List *
-1
71
70
141
T63
Denny McCarthy
-1
73
68
141
T63
Rory McIlroy *
-1
71
70
141
T63
Joaquin Niemann *
-1
71
70
141
T63
Scott Piercy *
-1
71
70
141
T63
Gary Woodland
-1
71
70
141
CUT
Emiliano Grillo
E
70
72
142
CUT
Dustin Johnson
E
70
72
142
CUT
Si Woo Kim
E
72
70
142
CUT
Russell Knox
E
70
72
142
CUT
Jason Kokrak
E
70
72
142
CUT
Martin Laird
E
73
69
142
CUT
Tyler McCumber
E
72
70
142
CUT
Ryan Palmer
E
73
69
142
CUT
Sam Ryder
E
72
70
142
CUT
Adam Scott
E
67
75
142
CUT
Kyle Stanley
E
75
67
142
CUT
Jhonattan Vegas
E
70
72
142
CUT
Matt Fitzpatrick
+1
73
70
143
CUT
Sergio Garcia
+1
75
68
143
CUT
Brice Garnett
+1
72
71
143
CUT
Lucas Glover
+1
74
69
143
CUT
Chesson Hadley
+1
75
68
143
CUT
Adam Long
+1
72
71
143
CUT
Charl Schwartzel
+1
72
71
143
CUT
Sepp Straka
+1
73
70
143
CUT
Bubba Watson
+1
71
72
143
CUT
Branden Grace
+2
71
73
144
CUT
Tyrrell Hatton
+2
72
72
144
CUT
Collin Morikawa
+2
74
70
144
CUT
Matthew NeSmith
+2
74
70
144
CUT
Brian Gay
+3
72
73
145
CUT
Adam Hadwin
+3
75
70
145
CUT
Hank Lebioda
+3
76
69
145
CUT
Troy Merritt
+3
72
73
145
CUT
Phil Mickelson
+3
73
72
145
CUT
Henrik Norlander
+3
70
75
145
CUT
C.T. Pan
+3
74
71
145
CUT
Doc Redman
+3
73
72
145
CUT
Scott Stallings
+3
74
71
145
CUT
Brendan Steele
+3
78
67
145
CUT
Brian Stuard
+3
73
72
145
CUT
Jason Day
+4
73
73
146
CUT
Brandon Hagy
+5
78
69
147
CUT
Richy Werenski
+5
76
71
147
CUT
Wyndham Clark
+6
78
70
148
CUT
Brendon Todd
+6
73
75
148
CUT
Matt Jones
+7
79
70
149
CUT
Matt Kuchar
+7
75
74
149
CUT
Kevin Kisner
+8
76
74
150
CUT
Matthew Wolff
+8
76
74
150
CUT
Roger Sloan
+9
79
72
151
CUT
J.T. Poston
+11
76
77
153
WD
Matt Wallace
E
* Player started on the back nine
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