While most Utahns were sleeping early Thursday morning, Salt Lake City native Tony Finau was getting off to another fantastic start in a major championship.
Continuing the momentum he garnered at last month’s U.S. Open, Finau fired a 4-under par 67 at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland and is in a three-way tie for second place in the British Open.
Finau, who currently resides in Lehi, started his round at 3:31 a.m. MDT and made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole after reaching the green in regulation from a fairway pot bunker.
He had been at 4-under when he made his third-straight birdie on the back nine a few holes earlier, but made a bogey on the 248-yard 16th hole to momentarily drop down the leaderboard.
“Firmest fairways I’ve ever played, and it is not even close,” Finau told NBC Sports. “With those type of conditions, you have to think your way around the golf course, and I did that today.”
Weather conditions were ideal at the dry, fast course littered with pot bunkers on the banks of the North Sea and scores were generally lower than expected. Kevin Kisner of the United States is the first-round leader after shooting a 5-under 66; Finau is tied at 67 with South Africans Erik van Rooyen and Zander Lombard.
Finau said the course was so hard that he hit a three-wood 420 yards in his practice round Wednesday. He birdied his first two holes and made eight birdies and four bogeys. Carnoustie features just two par-5s, and the long-hitting Finau birdied both.
Playing with Xander Schauffele and Jhonathan Vegas, Finau will tee off at 8:32 a.m. MDT Friday in hopes of continuing an impressive run in the majors this year. He tied for 10th place in the Masters and was fifth in the U.S. Open.
Finau has five top-20 finishes in nine majors over the past four seasons. He’s well on his way to another one.