Golf: Utahn Tony Finau clinches PGA Tour card
Tony Finau’s unconventional route to the PGA Tour, starting when he turned pro at age 17, culminated Sunday when he won the Web.com Tour’s Stonebrae Classic at Hayward, California.
The winner’s check of $108,000 lifted Finau to No. 8 on the money list with $238,125. He clinched a top-25 finish that will make him eligible for the 2014-15 PGA Tour schedule, beginning in October.
Finau, a graduate of West High School and a current Lehi resident, shot 67-62-63-66 for a total of 22 under par, winning by three strokes over three players who tied for second.
The 24-year-old Finau became the second Utahn to win a title in the tour’s 25-year history — and the first pro. Daniel Summerhays was a BYU golfer when he won in the summer of 2007, giving him a tour exemption that he immediately accepted.
Finau started the day with a one-stroke advantage. Making the turn, he was in a four-way tie for the lead. He jumped ahead with birdies at Nos. 10 and 11, then grabbed a two-stroke lead with a birdie at No. 15 and parred in as other contenders faded.
With some experience under pressure, "I’ve learned a lot about myself and the way I react," Finau said. "I think I was a little anxious at times. I was thinking ahead a little bit … There’s nothing you can do about the future or the past."
Finau had stood No. 24 on the money list prior to the Stonebrae Classic, thanks mostly to three top-10 finishes - including a fifth-place showing in the Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club in mid-July. His cuts-made streak of 11 tournaments ended the following week in Boise and he skipped last weekend’s event in Kansas, gearing up for the stretch run of the tour’s regular season.
Finau’s initial access to PGA Tour events will be determined by the order of finish in the four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals, beginning in late August. Another 25 cards will be earned in that series, with the season’s top 75 money-winners joining the PGA Tour’s Nos. 126-200 finishers.
With three events left in the Web.com Tour regular season, Orem native Scott Pinckney is 70th on the money list and former BYU golfer Zac Blair is 81st, having made the cut in all five of his starts.