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(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Lehi resident Tony Finau, right, shakes hands with Derek Fathauer after they finished their round during first round play in the Web.Com golf tour event at Willow Creek Country Club in Sandy, Utah Thursday, July 10, 2014.
Golf: Utahn Tony Finau tied for second at Utah Championship
Golf » Lehi resident makes 7 birdies during Web.com Tour event.
First Published Jul 10 2014 07:24 pm • Last Updated Jul 11 2014 02:27 pm

Sandy • Making a bunch of birdies at Willow Creek Country Club is not much of an issue for Tony Finau.

Avoiding bogeys is more of a challenge, but Finau mostly succeeded in Thursday’s first round of the Utah Championship. The Lehi resident absorbed one bogey, while making seven birdies on the way to a 6-under-par 65 in the Web.com Tour event. He’s tied for second place, three strokes behind Andres Gonzales.

At a glance

Highlights

O Andres Gonzales’ 9-under-par 62 is good for a three-stroke lead over West High School graduate Tony Finau and three other players.

» Former BYU golfer Zac Blair posts a 3-under-par 68 with six birdies.

» 102 of the 156 players break par on a rain-softened course, and 13 golfers have bogey-free rounds.

Thursday’s results

Web.com-Utah Championship

At Willow Creek Country Club

Sandy, Utah

Purse» $625,000

Yardage » 6,953; Par » 71 (35-36)

First round

Andres Gonzales 31-31 — 62

Tony Finau 34-31 — 65

Paul Peterson 33-32 — 65

Steve Wheatcroft 33-32 — 65

Skip Kendall 32-33 — 65

Ben Kohles 31-35 — 66

Bhavik Patel 33-33 — 66

Jason Gore 33-33 — 66

Martin Piller 33-33 — 66

Vince India 32-34 — 66

Jose Toledo 30-36 — 66

Justin Shin 33-33 — 66

Byron Smith 33-34 — 67

Cliff Kresge 33-34 — 67

Bill Lunde 35-32 — 67

Scott Harrington 34-33 — 67

Gavin Coles 34-33 — 67

Casey Clendenon 33-34 — 67

Aaron Goldberg 33-34 — 67

Kelly Kraft 35-32 — 67

Sung Kang 35-32 — 67

Carlos Ortiz 32-35 — 67

Alexandre Rocha 33-34 — 67

Roger Sloan 33-34 — 67

Alistair Presnell 33-34 — 67

Nicholas Lindheim 32-35 — 67

Kyle Stough 32-35 — 67

Cam Burke 35-32 — 67

Zack Sucher 33-34 — 67

Sam Saunders 34-33 — 67

Kevin Lucas 33-34 — 67

Todd Baek 34-33 — 67

Colt Knost 34-34 — 68

Kyle Thompson 36-32 — 68

Ryan Spears 34-34 — 68

Justin Thomas 31-37 — 68

Brad Elder 34-34 — 68

Travis Bertoni 34-34 — 68

Paul Haley II 33-35 — 68

Chase Wright 33-35 — 68

Mark Hubbard 31-37 — 68

Eric Mina 32-36 — 68

Tom Berry 32-36 — 68

Cory Renfrew 36-32 — 68

Scott Parel 34-34 — 68

Luke List 36-32 — 68

Jeff Klauk 33-35 — 68

Scott Piercy 31-37 — 68

Jimmy Gunn 33-35 — 68

Blayne Barber 34-34 — 68

Kevin Kim 34-34 — 68

Timothy O’Neal 33-35 — 68

Si Woo Kim 36-32 — 68

Zac Blair 35-33 — 68

Jeff Gove 33-36 — 69

Cameron Percy 35-34 — 69

Zack Fischer 33-36 — 69

D.J. Brigman 35-34 — 69

Shane Bertsch 35-34 — 69

Tom Hoge 35-34 — 69

Max Homa 35-34 — 69

John Mallinger 35-34 — 69

Derek Fathauer 34-35 — 69

T.J. Vogel 33-36 — 69

James Sacheck 33-36 — 69

Roberto Diaz 32-37 — 69

Peter Lonard 32-37 — 69

Vaughn Taylor 35-34 — 69

Nick O’Hern 32-37 — 69

Shaun Micheel 36-33 — 69

J.J. Killeen 34-35 — 69

Sebastian Cappelen 34-35 — 69

Steve Allan 36-33 — 69

Brett Stegmaier 36-33 — 69

Ted Purdy 35-34 — 69

Scott Pinckney 34-35 — 69

Camilo  Benedetti 34-35 — 69

Nick Rousey 34-35 — 69

Jon Curran 37-32 — 69

Neil Johnson 33-36 — 69

Jerod Turner 36-33 — 69

Nick Taylor 36-33 — 69

Jeff Curl 35-34 — 69

Brandon Brown 36-33 — 69

Oscar Fraustro 34-36 — 70

Steve Saunders 37-33 — 70

Matt Davidson 35-35 — 70

Steven Alker 34-36 — 70

Aron Price 34-36 — 70

Matt Weibring 36-34 — 70

Sebastian Vazquez 34-36 — 70

Riley Wheeldon 34-36 — 70

Brad Schneider 34-36 — 70

Chris Baker 35-35 — 70

Jake Younan 35-35 — 70

Amory Davis 35-35 — 70

Mike Drake 35-35 — 70

Ryan Blaum 34-36 — 70

Fabian Gomez 35-35 — 70

Brett Lederer 34-36 — 70

Justin Lower 34-36 — 70

Jake Johnson 35-35 — 70

Whee Kim 36-35 — 71

Aaron Watkins 35-36 — 71

Peter Tomasulo 36-35 — 71

Albin Choi 35-36 — 71

Steve LeBrun 36-35 — 71

Andres Echavarria 35-36 — 71

Rob Oppenheim 34-37 — 71

Jonathan Fricke 37-34 — 71

Clay Ogden 36-35 — 71

Harold Varner III 36-35 — 71

Franklin Corpening 36-35 — 71

Paul Claxton 34-37 — 71

Carlos Sainz Jr 32-39 — 71

Adam Crawford 34-37 — 71

Josh Broadaway 35-36 — 71

Andy Pope 33-38 — 71

Bryan Martin 34-37 — 71

Michael Weaver 36-35 — 71

Ashley Hall 34-38 — 72

Casey Wittenberg 38-34 — 72

Darron Stiles 35-37 — 72

Mackenzie Hughes 37-35 — 72

Chris Epperson 35-37 — 72

Brent Witcher 37-35 — 72

Nathan Tyler 36-36 — 72

Trevor Murphy 40-32 — 72

Steve Friesen 39-33 — 72

Michael Kim 36-36 — 72

Bronson Burgoon 35-37 — 72

Christian Brand 38-34 — 72

Hunter Haas 35-37 — 72

Matt Hendrix 36-36 — 72

Philip Pettitt, Jr. 37-36 — 73

Fernando Mechereffe 38-35 — 73

Jared Wolfe 38-35 — 73

Andrew Putnam 38-35 — 73

Jason Millard 37-36 — 73

Matt Fast 39-34 — 73

Chris Moody 36-37 — 73

Mathew Goggin 37-37 — 74

Garrett Osborn 36-38 — 74

Tyler Weworski 38-36 — 74

James Nitties 35-39 — 74

John Kimbell 36-38 — 74

David Skinns 35-39 — 74

Josh Anderson 37-37 — 74

Grant Norton 38-36 — 74

Jin Park 34-41 — 75

J. Fernandez-Valdes 37-38 — 75

Kevin Johnson 37-39 — 76

Chris Wilson 38-38 — 76

Ryan Sullivan 40-36 — 76

Hugo Leon 37-39 — 76

Justin Snelling 36-40 — 76

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If Finau is driving the ball accurately, Willow Creek’s five par-5s suit his game nicely. He birdied all of them, usually hitting a 5- or 6-iron for his second shot. Taking advantage of those holes and posting low numbers are required for anyone to contend in this tournament. Last July’s winning total was 22 under par for four rounds.

"You’ve got to score, here at this golf course," Finau said. "It’s been proven every year. I’m not saying I’m going to shoot [65] every day, but the par-5s are definitely get-able for me. So if I can eliminate making some bogeys this week, I’ll be good."

Finau’s bogey came on the par-4 No. 8, his 17th hole of the day. He pulled his approach shot into the greenside rough, leaving him with a difficult pitch shot. Otherwise, he played solidly and enjoyed ideal conditions, with rain-softened greens and hardly any wind.

He thrived in a homecoming event, with a few dozen relatives and friends following him. His gallery is sure to increase through the weekend, especially if he can stay close to the lead.

"It’s good that they have a chance to come watch me," said Finau, a West High School graduate. "I wouldn’t be the person that I am or the player that I am without the support that I’ve had."

A strong showing in the Utah Championship could propel Finau to the PGA Tour. He ranks 22nd on the Web.com Tour money list with seven events left in the regular season, and the top 25 players will advance.

Gonzales, who’s No. 28, also made the most of the morning conditions, producing an eagle on No. 1 and adding seven birdies. "I knew I was due to put something kind of low, and that happened today," the Washington resident said, noting that Willow Creek reminds him of his home course, the Tacoma Golf and Country Club.

Monday qualifier Paul Peterson matched Finau’s 65 in the morning, then Steve Wheatcroft and Skip Kendall posted 65s in the afternoon.


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PGA Tour veteran Scott Piercy, who began his college career at BYU before transferring to San Diego State, shot a 67 in his return to competitive golf after a five-month absence due to arm surgery.

BYU product Zac Blair is tied for 33rd place at 68, giving him a good chance of making another cut in his second tour start of the year.

Other players with Utah ties in the field include Orem native Scott Pinckney (69), ex-Cougar Clay Ogden (71) and Riverside Country Club assistant pro Chris Moody (74).

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com



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