Category Archives: Tony Finau

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Sophomores Finau and Schauffele shine at 2019 Masters

The elation of Tiger Woods winning his fifth green jacket at the 2019 Masters has begun to subside. Well maybe not, and maybe it never will, but the roars have at least died down considerably since this past Sunday. However, the 15-time major winning veteran wasn’t the only player to showcase his talents at Augusta National this year.

While Woods was busy racking up the final round highlights six players were trying to make the most of just their second year playing at one of the most iconic courses in all of golf. Each of the Masters sophomores surprisingly made the cut in a place where experience is greatly favored. The only to finish over par was 2018 RBC Heritage winner Satoshi Kodaira (+6).

Haotong Li (-1)  and the talk of the tour the last two weeks, Canada’s Corey Conners (E) each managed a respectable top-50 finish. One year removed from missing the cut at his first attempt at a green jacket Patton Kizzire (-6) cracked the top-20 in a tie for 18th. But above the others stood two second-year, rising contenders.
Finau finds a rhythm at Augusta
In his maiden Masters voyage in 2018, Tony Finau had a memorable rookie outing for more ways than one. Every golf fan, die-hard or casual, remembers the images of the then 28-year old making a hole in one at the Wednesday Par-3 Contest. Then celebrating, dislocating his ankle, and popping it back into place by himself.

Remarkably, Finau shot 6-under par on his final round alone for the third lowest score of the day and a share of 10th place. Throughout his 2018 campaign on the PGA Tour he climbed to sixth in FedEx Cup rankings, finished top-10 in three of the four majors (including solo fifth at the U.S. Open) and made the most of his first of what is sure to be many more Ryder Cup appearances.

It seemed a logical prediction that with a year of momentum behind him, and two good ankles, Finau would be a force to be reckoned with around Augusta in 2019. Over his opening two rounds the Salt Lake City native stayed stead with below par rounds of 71 (-1) and 70 (-2). It wasn’t until Saturday when then Tongan-Samoan sensation truly broke out with an 8-under third round of 64.

Following his near record-breaking Saturday, Finau found himself in the final pairing Sunday with none other than Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari. Scoring was difficult to come by early on in their closing 18 holes. Making only one birdie before dumping his tee shot into the water on the par-3 12th, the closing six holes were a completely different story.

The 14th ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings closed with three birdies including back to back at 15 and 16. Finau’s ability to finish and bounce back after difficult holes helped propel him into a four-way finish for fifth place. Two years, two top-10 finishes and continued improvement each put Finau into the early discussion for a future green jacket sooner rather than later.
Schauffele starts slow but surges Sunday
In 2017 a San Diego State University standout by the name of Xander Schauffele won twice in his first year on the PGA Tour. Perhaps still the biggest win of his career to date came in September 2017 when he bested Justin Thomas by one stroke in the finale of the FedEx Cup playoffs at the Tour Championship. While Thomas still captured the FedEx Cup Championship it came as no surprise when Schauffele was announced as the 2017 PGA Rookie of the Year.

The 2018 Masters wasn’t a breakout first trip to Augusta by any means but Xander was still able to make the cut and finish tied for 50th. Compared to his rookie season 2018 was slow by Schauffele standards. However, in the 2018-2019 wraparound season, the reigning ninth-ranked golfer in the World has already secured two victories. His first of which came at the HSBC Champions event in a playoff with none other than fellow Masters sophomore standout Tony Finau.

The 2019 trek to Augusta National started rocky for the already four-time Tour winner. Schauffele turned in a first round 1-over par 73 but bounced back quickly on Friday shooting the low round of the day with a 7-under 65. A steady 2-under 70 on Saturday put him right back in the mix just five shots off the lead heading into Sunday’s final round.

Despite being 1-over through seven holes, a birdie at the par-5 8th began a surge of five birdies before finishing 12-under par for the tournament where the 25-year old, in just his second Masters, took a share of the clubhouse lead. As everyone knows that lead was ultimately overtaken by Tiger Woods but would still leave Schauffele finished in a three-way tie for second with major champions Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka (not a bad way to improve after an 8-over finish at his first Masters).

With both men still improving and bettering their game each and every tournament, both Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele still have plenty of Masters, and majors, moments ahead of them. Finau will be taking a brief break this week while Schauffele will tee it right back up at the RBC Heritage from Harbour Town Golf Links.

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Tony Finau Poised for Successful Masters Final Round After Shooting 64

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Category : PGA , PGA Tour , The Masters , Tony Finau

Tony Finau walked off the 18th green the same way he started his third round at Augusta National. Cool, calm and collected. Nothing seems to phase Finau, even though he is playing on golf’s most prestigious stage. On a wild Saturday at The Masters, Finau would propel his way up the leaderboard with a third round 64. Along with Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau’s 64 would etch their performances into Masters history. The first time in the 83 year history of the tournament where three golfers shot a 64 on the same day.

“The conditions were perfect today,” said Finau. “These golfers are really good. The golf course hasn’t changed over the last couple days so we know the targets to hit when driving off the tee and hitting into the green.”
Finau Looking for Better Outcome After Injury-Plagued 2018 Masters
One year ago, Tony Finau participated in the annual Masters Par-3 Contest, the Wednesday before tournament action. Finau would achieve what many golfers yearn to conquer in their lifetimes; to get a hole-in-one. But what would transpire for the 29-year-old was less than ideal. While celebrating his ace, Finau rolled his ankle, seriously injuring it. After he underwent tests, it had revealed that he had torn ligaments, but no evidence of structural damage.

Despite the adversity of playing golf with a limited ankle, Finau never withdrew from last year’s Masters. He would end up finishing tied for 10th, firing a final round 66, where he would birdie six consecutive holes from 12 to 17. Even though he was visibly hobbling, the tranquility of his persona remained constant. As he teed it up this week at Augusta, Finau “April Fooled” the golfing world into a frenzy where he showcased the shoes he would “wear” to protect his ankle. Joking aside, no one is laughing at the way Finau is performing this week at the Masters. Deep beneath the stoic facade is a fierce competitor, who can sustain successful play when he is on a hot streak.


“It was actually a great feeling to stand on the first tee Thursday feeling healthy,” Finau said. “This is a golf course I like, and I feel like I can play well. Last year, even though it kind of took the pressure off me, it was awkward playing hurt that way. This year, there was none of that.”

Tony Finau Relying on Previous Major Championship Experience to Prepare for Masters Final Round
Tony Finau epitomized what Moving Day means at Augusta National. An opportunity to set you up on the precipice of attaining illustrious golf history. Finau would tie a Masters record, shooting 30 on the front 9. This included an eagle on the par-5 8th, which propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.

“I didn’t hear a lot of roars,” said Finau. “I saw Rickie Fowler coming down 9 and he gave me a thumbs up, saying “You could’ve made it.” It was nice to make a 3 there on 8, setting myself up for success the rest of the round.”

While he only got two birdies on the back 9 on the two par-5’s, Finau’s steady driving accuracy and ball striking propelled him to the final group on Sunday. Hitting 15 of 18 Greens in Regulation (83 percent) and 12 of 14 Fairways Hit (86 percent), Tony Finau was in a laser-focused zone all the way to the Augusta National clubhouse.

On an early Sunday final round start, Tony Finau will be paired with 18-time major winner Tiger Woods and the 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari, currently possessing a two-shot lead. For Finau, this is not the first time he will be in the final group of a major championship. At the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, Finau experienced the pressure and expectation of being the last one out on Sunday. Shooting a final round 72 would put him into fifth place, but the knowledge he gained will prepare him for tomorrow, as he embarks on trying to win his first Masters.

“Having that experience under my belt at Shinnecock will most definitely help me tomorrow,” affirmed Finau.

The roars are going to perpetuate throughout Augusta as Tiger attempts to chase his 15th major. But for Tony Finau, remaining in his calm frame of mind will suit him well, looking to attack an Augusta National course that suits his game impeccably.

 The post Tony Finau Poised for Successful Masters Final Round After Shooting 64 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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2019 Masters Third Round Highlights

Perfect weather made for as near perfect conditions as we’ve ever seen at The Masters during Saturday’s third round. Luckily for the remaining field the rain held off at least for the day. Championship Sunday will be a different story as tee times have already been adjusted to start earlier, go off on both the 1st and 10th tees and be set in threesomes.

Records were challenged throughout the day at Augusta National as for the first time in tournament history four players shot 8-under rounds of 64 on the same day. One of those men was 29-year old Tony Finau who currently sits as one of the three co-leaders at 11-under par. In his sophomore outing at Augusta Finau also tied to course record with a 30 on the front nine.

Joining Finau in the final pairing Sunday also at 11-under will be the four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods. However, despite stellar play by both challengers they’ll both be chasing the two-stroke leader Francesco Molinari. The 2018 Open champion quietly rose up the leaderboard and into sole possession of the lead thanks to four straight birdies on the back nine. Last Word on Golf has your top highlights and Masters moments from Saturday’s third round at Augusta National.
Finau catches fire
Making just his second Masters start, Tony Finau showed that he can be a true contender no matter the course. After starting his third round with four birdies over the first seven holes Finau nearly holed his 261-yard approach shot for an albatross. An eight-inch tap in would give him an easy eagle and a 6-under start for his round.

Already on a tear Saturday, Finau stepped up to the par-5 13th on a mission. With still 11-feet to navigate he sent the putt home for his fifth birdie of the day to move into the early solo lead at 10-under.

It’s been said the secret to winning at Augusta National is successfully scoring on the par-5’s. Finau did just that Saturday going 5-under across the four par-5’s including a birdie at the 530-yard 15th.


Woods continues to turn back the clocks
Seeking his first major championship since 2008, and his first green jacket since 2005, Tiger Woods continued to ignite the gallery once again Saturday. Following an unfortunate bogey at the 5th hole, Woods fired back at the par-3 6th for birdie to get back to 6-under. Just one hole later a spot on approach would lead to the second of three straight birdies for the 14-time major champion.

On the heels of four straight pars Woods woke the crowd up once again as he rounded Amen Corner with his fourth birdie of the day.

Few moments at The Masters elicit the overwhelming roar of the gallery like a lead tying putt by Tiger Woods. That was exactly what he heard with back to back birdies at 15 and 16 to get to 11-under.


Saturdays other top shots around Augusta
Francesco Molinari’s stealth like precision around the course often flies under the radar until it’s too late. The Italian did exactly that Saturday at Augusta as all eyes were focused on Woods and his crowd roaring run. Molinari quietly made four straight birdies beginning from 12 through 15 to propel himself into a two-stroke lead.

Perennial PGA Tour fan favorite Rickie Fowler has yet to make the big push for the lead but has kept himself in contention thanks to shots like his chip-in eagle at 13 on Saturday.

Saturday may not have been the picture perfect round for Brooks Koepka after capturing a share of the lead over both Thursday and Friday. But an eagle at the par-5 15th helped spark the three-time major winner down the stretch.

Making a steady run Saturday with a 5-under round of 67, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson drained his 45-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th.

Despite a less than ideal Masters campaign in 2019, Rory McIlroy has refused to go quietly especially after confidently finishing his par-5’s Saturday at 15 for eagle.

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Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches

On the eve of the start of the Ryder Cup, Team USA and Europe’s selections for the morning four-ball matches were revealed. Captains Furyk and Bjorn made the vital selections that will pave the way for their teams to have success in the Ryder Cup. Here are the morning four-ball matches that will open the Ryder Cup:

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood

With the golfers set for both squads, here are my five initial thoughts heading into the Ryder Cup Friday Four-Ball matches.
1) Both Europe and USA Lead with Strength
It is clear that both Europe and USA want to get off on the right footing when it comes to who they put into the Four-Ball matches. For the Americans, they included golfers who come into the Ryder Cup with a ton of momentum. Tiger Woods is arriving at this competition, fresh off winning the TOUR Championship. Brooks Koepka has won two major championships this year.

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For the Europeans, who can argue the success Justin Rose has had this year. FedEx Cup Champion. World Number One. Oh, and he has an above .500 record in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy is the other leader for the Europeans, coming into the Ryder Cup with a 9-6-4 career record. Putting the squad’s two top golfers in the first two matches sends a message that Europe wants to get the early lead and set the tone early in this competition.
2) Older Veterans Are Sitting
In the past, normally it would be the older veterans to start for the squads, to galvanize the respective teams. But in this Ryder Cup, both the Americans and Europeans are sitting their older players for future sessions. The USA is sitting Phil Mickelson, playing in his 12th Ryder Cup. Europe is resting Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, both of whom have played pivotal roles in victorious European Ryder Cup teams in the past.

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But can you blame Captains Furyk and Bjorn for their decisions? Since being selected as a Captain’s Pick, Phil Mickelson has been at the bottom of the leaderboards at the BMW and TOUR Championships. Sergio Garcia has not made the cut of a major championship since he won The Masters back in 2017. Ultimately, these players will have to compete at least once in the Ryder Cup. Most likely, some of them may play in the Foursomes session on Friday. But giving rest to the older players is important, as the Captains would like to keep them physically fit and not tired before the grueling Singles Sunday.
3) Rookies Get Golden Opportunity
It is clear that Captains Furyk and Bjorn aren’t shying away from putting their rookies in the hot seat early on in the Ryder Cup. Six rookies combined will be starting in the Friday morning Four-Ball session; Tony Finau and Justin Thomas for the Americans and Jon Rahm, Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for the Europeans.

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“Players stand up and they are counted for what they do in the greatest events in the world. But legends are made in this event,” Bjorn said. “That is where the public comes around them and can do so much for their careers. It’s an opportunity to go out there and be the best that you can be on a grand stage.”

Thomas Bjorn is risking more with starting four rookies compared to Furyk’s two. Not to take away anything from Tony Finau or Justin Thomas but those two have been in the mix in major championships (Thomas 2017 PGA Championship winner) and relish those high-pressure moments. For Bjorn, he will roll the dice with Rahm, Olesen, Hatton, and Fleetwood. These four have shown promising golf this year, but will it shine through in front of the rowdy home crowd? The Danish captain believes they have what it takes to seize the moment.

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“There are the obvious guys out there, in the sense that they are players you would all expect to see, and then there’s a new guy in every group,” Bjorn said.

“They have been just itching to go, especially Thorbjorn, Jon and Tyrrell. I think Tommy is a different guy, in the way that he’s won [the 2017 France Open] around here, and he’s been real quality for the last couple of years.”
4) Best Morning Match?
While it will be fantastic to see the big hitters of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy going toe-to-toe or the lifelong friendship of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas becoming Ryder Cup partners, the best morning match will be the last one. Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, the Big Cat and Captain America taking on Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, the Italian Stallion and the English Rookie.

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Patrick Reed’s Ryder Cup record is sensational. 6-1-2 and most famous for exuding that American pride in defeating Rory McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Despite Tiger Woods’ underwhelming Ryder Cup record (13-17-3), he is coming into the Ryder Cup on a high after winning his 80th PGA Tour victory. The partnership of Woods and Reed can fuel and ignite the fire within each other, showcasing that emotion and enthusiasm we are used to seeing at the Ryder Cup.

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Francesco Molinari arrives in Paris playing the best golf of his career. Winner of the BMW PGA Championship and the Open Championship, Molinari utilized his steady ball striking tee to green to capture these victories. This includes deflecting a Tiger Woods final round charge at Carnoustie to hoist the Claret Jug.

Molinari will be paired with Tommy Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup rookie who has played brilliantly this season. From shooting a 64 in the final round of the U.S. Open to winning the 2017 French Open at Le Golf National, Fleetwood’s coolness under pressure will be a critical asset to possess in this Ryder Cup match.
5) Who Wins Each Match?
These four matches have the potential to produce terrific drama to open the Ryder Cup. As both the USA and Europe teams know, getting off to a strong start is crucial. When a player arriving to the first tee at the Ryder Cup, there is no messing around. Just ask Rory McIlroy, who vividly remembers his experience of coming to the first tee in his inaugural Ryder Cup appearance.

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“I still thought it was this team event that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things,” McIlroy said. “I was more concerned about individual titles and all that. Then I got to the first tee and I realized the magnitude of it all. It just hits you. You try and put your ball on that tee and it takes you a couple times to get it to settle on there.”
With that said, here are my predictions for the opening four matches.

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm (Europe)

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen (USA)

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey (USA)

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood (Half)

 

Score After Friday Morning Session: USA 2.5 – Europe 1.5

 

 

 The post Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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