Utahn Finau advances in playoffs, earns Masters invitation

Tony Finau watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the BMW Championship golf tournament at Conway Farms Golf Club, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Lake Forest, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Tony Finau produced one of the best rounds of his professional golf career at a very good time Sunday.

The West High School graduate chipped in for a birdie on the 18th hole and posted a 7-under-par 64 in the final round of the BMW Championship near Chicago, moving into a tie for seventh place. His reward? Entry into two high-profile events in Georgia — including the 2018 Masters.

Finau advanced to the Tour Championship this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta by jumping from 39th place to 24th in the FedEx Cup Playoffs standings. The top 30 players earned berths in the Tour Championship and bids to all four major tournaments next year.

The Masters appearance will be the first for Finau, a Lehi resident who turned 28 on Thursday. He will follow the Augusta National Golf Club debut of Daniel Summerhays, another Utah high school graduate and State Amateur champion, who played the 2017 Masters.

Finau entered the Playoffs with a good chance of qualifying for the Tour Championship, but he played inconsistently and tied for 54th place in The Northern Trust and tied for 65th in the Dell Technologies Championship. He opened the BMW Championship with a 65, then faded with rounds of 72-70 and seemingly had little hope of advancing Sunday.

But he came through. Finau birdied six of the first 11 holes in the final round, then bogeyed the par-5 No. 14 after an errant drive. He rallied with birdies on No. 15 and 18, making an 18-foot chip from behind the green on the last hole — ending a round that included only 20 putts.

Finau posted a video clip of his reaction to the shot on Twitter and wrote, “The emotion says it all!”

Finau won the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, but that tournament was played opposite a World Golf Championship event and the victory didn’t come with a Masters invitation.

Sunday’s top-10 finish was his seventh of the 2016-17 season, which began in October. His check for $282,000 pushed his season’s earnings to more than $2.5 million.

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