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Golf: Lehi's Tony Finau stays in contention at Utah Championship

Published July 12, 2014 2:34 pm

Web.com Tour • West High graduate is three shots off lead.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy • After making a clutch, bogey-saving putt on the 18th hole that did more for his psyche than perhaps anything else, local favorite Tony Finau signed his scorecard, kissed his wife and hugged his adoring children, 2-year-old Jraice and 1-year-old Leilene.

Then the 24-year-old Lehi resident who graduated from Salt Lake City's West High and turned pro when he was just 17 openly admitted it.

"I am definitely nervous," Finau said. "I am not going to shy away from [saying] that, but I think it has given me more energy than anything else."

Raw nerves notwithstanding, Finau has put himself into decent shape to contend this weekend at the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club. He followed Thursday's opening-round 65 with a solid 67 on Friday and is tied for fourth at 10-under 132, just three shots behind leader Andres Gonzales.

Like he did Thursday, Finau used his prodigious length to conquer most of Willow Creek's five par-5s, and made just one bogey — on No. 18 when his tee shot trickled into the pond in front of the green.

"That was huge," he said of the uphill 8-footer that plopped in as dozens of supporters roared with approval. "I fought all day, and that wasn't a very good swing on the last hole. I tried to hit a choke [7-iron], and kind of decelerated."

Finau got off to a brilliant start with three birdies on his first four holes. For about five minutes, the scoreboards around Willow Creek incorrectly credited him with a double-eagle 2 on the par-5 12th hole, and temporarily had him in the lead at 14-under, causing the small gallery around the 18th green to buzz.

Alas, he really only made a birdie on the hole. A good opportunity to birdie the last par-5 was damaged when his tee shot found a fairway bunker, keeping him from reaching the green in two. The tee shot errors on 17 and 18 kept him from being in the lead group on Saturday morning, but he's not complaining.

"A good position going into the weekend is all I can ask for," Finau said.

The 31-year-old Gonzales, who grew up in a Seattle suburb and played collegiately at UNLV, took control of the tournament with a 62 on Thursday and stayed hot on Friday with an opening-hole eagle en route to a 67.

Former BYU golfer Zac Blair, playing in his second-straight Web.com Tour event, made his second straight cut with a 7-under 135 and is tied for 24th. Blair's scorecard included three 2s as he birdied three of the course's six par-3s, a rare feat. A double-bogey on No. 13 marred a fantastic round.

Former BYU golfer Clay Ogden, a Monday qualifier, shot a 70 on Friday and finished at 1-under. Provo's Chris Moody finished at 1-over.

Scott Pinckney, who grew up in Orem before his family moved to Arizona, is tied for 15th at 8-under. —

Utah Championship

O Friday's highlights:

• Washington's Andres Gonzales holds on to his first-day lead with a 4-under 67 and has a two-shot lead over Steve Wheatcroft and Travis Bertoni

• Lehi's Tony Finau, a West High graduate, is tied for fourth at 10-under 132 after a 67. —

Friday's results

Web.com-Utah Championship

At Willow Creek Country Club

Sandy, Utah

Purse • $625,000

Yardage • 6,953; Par • 71 (35-36)

Second round

Andres Gonzales 62-67 — 129

Steve Wheatcroft 65-66 — 131

Travis Bertoni 68-63 — 131

Sung Kang 67-65 — 132

Adam Crawford 71-61 — 132

Jose Toledo 66-66 — 132

Bhavik Patel 66-66 — 132

Tony Finau 65-67 — 132

Blayne Barber 68-65 — 133

Kevin Kim 68-65 — 133

Byron Smith 67-66 — 133

Ben Kohles 66-67 — 133

Colt Knost 68-65 — 133

Ryan Spears 68-65 — 133

Steve Allan 69-65 — 134

Scott Pinckney 69-65 — 134

Skip Kendall 65-69 — 134

Roger Sloan 67-67 — 134

Alistair Presnell 67-67 — 134

Kevin Lucas 67-67 — 134

Bill Lunde 67-67 — 134

Cliff Kresge 67-67 — 134

Aaron Goldberg 67-67 — 134

Scott Parel 68-67 — 135

Vaughn Taylor 69-66 — 135

Kelly Kraft 67-68 — 135

Carlos Ortiz 67-68 — 135

Nicholas Lindheim 67-68 — 135

Cam Burke 67-68 — 135

Jerod Turner 69-66 — 135

Zac Blair 68-67 — 135

Jason Gore 66-69 — 135

John Mallinger 69-66 — 135

Jimmy Gunn 68-68 — 136

Brett Stegmaier 69-67 — 136

Alexandre Rocha 67-69 — 136

Vince India 66-70 — 136

Justin Shin 66-70 — 136

Jeff Curl 69-67 — 136

Whee Kim 71-65 — 136

Matt Davidson 70-66 — 136

Brad Elder 68-68 — 136

Martin Piller 66-70 — 136

Chase Wright 68-68 — 136

Harold Varner III 71-65 — 136

Mark Hubbard 68-68 — 136

Paul Peterson 65-71 — 136

Peter Lonard 69-68 — 137

Ryan Blaum 70-67 — 137

Luke List 68-69 — 137

Fabian Gomez 70-67 — 137

Scott Piercy 68-69 — 137

Jeff Klauk 68-69 — 137

Camilo Benedetti 69-68 — 137

Andrew Putnam 73-64 — 137

Sam Saunders 67-70 — 137

Zack Fischer 69-68 — 137

Steve Saunders 70-67 — 137

Shane Bertsch 69-68 — 137

Max Homa 69-68 — 137

Matt Weibring 70-67 — 137

Casey Clendenon 67-70 — 137

Jonathan Fricke 71-66 — 137

Brad Schneider 70-67 — 137

Chris Baker 70-67 — 137

Failed to Qualify

Nick O'Hern 69-69 — 138

J.J. Killeen 69-69 — 138

Carlos Sainz Jr 71-67 — 138

Nick Rousey 69-69 — 138

Timothy O'Neal 68-70 — 138

Si Woo Kim 68-70 — 138

Jeff Gove 69-69 — 138

Cameron Percy 69-69 — 138

D.J. Brigman 69-69 — 138

Scott Harrington 67-71 — 138

Darron Stiles 72-66 — 138

Peter Tomasulo 71-67 — 138

Justin Thomas 68-70 — 138

T.J. Vogel 69-69 — 138

James Sacheck 69-69 — 138

Rob Oppenheim 71-67 — 138

Riley Wheeldon 70-68 — 138

Roberto Diaz 69-69 — 138

Michael Kim 72-66 — 138

Sebastian Cappelen 69-70 — 139

Hunter Haas 72-67 — 139

Jon Curran 69-70 — 139

Matt Hendrix 72-67 — 139

Josh Broadaway 71-68 — 139

Jason Millard 73-66 — 139

Brandon Brown 69-70 — 139

Todd Baek 67-72 — 139

Aaron Watkins 71-68 — 139

Oscar Fraustro 70-69 — 139

Derek Fathauer 69-70 — 139

Gavin Coles 67-72 — 139

Sebastian Vazquez 70-69 — 139

Jared Wolfe 73-66 — 139

Paul Haley II 68-71 — 139

Tom Berry 68-71 — 139

James Nitties 74-66 — 140

Shaun Micheel 69-71 — 140

Ted Purdy 69-71 — 140

Nick Taylor 69-71 — 140

Andy Pope 71-69 — 140

Zack Sucher 67-73 — 140

Fernando Mechereffe 73-67 — 140

Aron Price 70-70 — 140

Andres Echavarria 71-69 — 140

Nathan Tyler 72-68 — 140

Trevor Murphy 72-68 — 140

Eric Mina 68-72 — 140

Paul Claxton 71-70 — 141

Franklin Corpening 71-70 — 141

Bronson Burgoon 72-69 — 141

Christian Brand 72-69 — 141

Neil Johnson 69-72 — 141

Kyle Stough 67-74 — 141

Jake Johnson 70-71 — 141

Bryan Martin 71-70 — 141

Philip Pettitt, Jr. 73-68 — 141

Kyle Thompson 68-73 — 141

Steve LeBrun 71-70 — 141

Clay Ogden 71-70 — 141

Steve Friesen 72-69 — 141

Mike Drake 70-71 — 141

Brett Lederer 70-72 — 142

Grant Norton 74-68 — 142

Michael Weaver 71-71 — 142

Casey Wittenberg 72-70 — 142

Brent Witcher 72-70 — 142

Tyler Weworski 74-68 — 142

Matt Fast 73-70 — 143

Justin Lower 70-73 — 143

Chris Moody 73-70 — 143

Mathew Goggin 74-69 — 143

Ashley Hall 72-71 — 143

Tom Hoge 69-74 — 143

Cory Renfrew 68-75 — 143

Amory Davis 70-73 — 143

Josh Anderson 74-70 — 144

Steven Alker 70-74 — 144

Albin Choi 71-73 — 144

Jake Younan 70-74 — 144

John Kimbell 74-71 — 145

Justin Snelling 76-69 — 145

Jin Park 75-70 — 145

Ryan Sullivan 76-70 — 146

Garrett Osborn 74-72 — 146

Mackenzie Hughes 72-75 — 147

Chris Epperson 72-76 — 148

Kevin Johnson 76-73 — 149

Chris Wilson 76-73 — 149

David Skinns 74-75 — 149

Jorge Fernandez-Valdes 75-74 — 149

Hugo Leon 76 — WD