After last weekend’s Utah Championship in Farmington, Cameron Champ spoke of his friendship with with Salt Lake City native Tony Finau and how happy he was about winning the Web.com Tour event in “Tony’s territory.”
That area is expanding rapidly. Finau is becoming one of the world's best golfers, as illustrated by his performance in major tournaments this year. Having tied for 10th place in the Masters and finished fifth in the U.S. Open, Finau will try to extend his consistent play in the British Open, starting Thursday at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.
In nine majors over four seasons, Finau has five top-20 finishes. He's confident in those settings. “Jack Nicklaus used to say the majors were the easiest to win,” Finau said, because some players are overwhelmed by the atmosphere.
Finau enjoyed getting a sense of what it is like to contend in a major, applying mild pressure to winner Brooks Koepka in last month’s U.S. Open in New York. With the British Open and the PGA Championship to come, he potentially could produce one of the best seasons ever in the majors for a Utah resident. Mike Weir’s 2003 showing is the standard, with a victory in the Masters and two other top-10 efforts.
TONY’S TEE TIMES
Tony Finau will play the first two rounds of the British Open with Xander Schauffele and Jhonattan Vegas, teeing off at 3:31 a.m. MDT on Thursday and 8:32 a.m. MDT on Friday.
Finau ranks 10th in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings, 31st in the Official World Golf Ranking and 14th on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list. He would love to play in the Ryder Cup, especially after being invited to play practice rounds in France last week with other candidates for the U.S. team. Eight players will automatically qualify, as of the PGA Championship. Four captain’s picks will be added in September.
Either way, making the team will require good play. “My intention is to win a tournament,” Finau said after playing nine holes of a Utah Championship pro-am round with Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “I feel I'm as close as anyone on the tour, and I'm worthy of winning. But you have to get it done.”
Finau’s game is built for consistency, a trait he developed by learning there’s more to golf than driving the ball a long way. He’s willing to use different clubs off the tee and plot his way around the course, partly explaining why he finished in the top 30 in each of his first two British Open appearances.
In his 20 starts on the PGA Tour’s 2017-18 schedule, Finau has six top-10 finishes and 13 top-25 placements and has earned $3.3 million. He has missed only one 36-hole cut since mid-March.