This time, Tony Finau made a more conventional birdie on No. 16, contributing to another rally in the Ryder Cup.
The ending was different, though. Finau and partner Brooks Koepka couldn't complete their comeback, losing 2 and 1 to Europe's Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy in a fourball match Saturday at Le Golf National in Paris.
The defeat was part of a difficult day for the American team, trailing 10-6 after four rounds of play and needing to win eight of 12 singles matches Sunday to keep the Cup. Finau will oppose Tommy Fleetwood, teeing off at 4:51 a.m. MDT.
Finau was not in U.S. captain Jim Furyk’s lineup in the afternoon competition for the second straight day. NBC Sports analyst Peter Jacobsen was surprised by that move, saying on the telecast, “Finau may be playing the best of anybody” for the U.S. team in his first Ryder Cup appearance.
Finau, a Lehi resident, and Koepka were 4 down with five holes to play in the morning session, but they won Nos. 14, 15 and 16 to give themselves a chance. Garcia responded with a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to end the match.
Until that moment, Finau sensed that another comeback was in the works, after he and Koepka won two of the last three holes to take their match Friday. That victory over Justin Rose and Jon Rahm was aided by Finau’s birdie on the par-3 No. 16, where his tee shot bounced off a bulkhead surrounding the water and ended up 4 feet from the hole.
Saturday's rally was “almost a similar thing,” Finau said. “With momentum on your side, anything can happen. … Unfortunately, Sergio made a great putt.”
Finau wished he had taken more advantage of his birdie opportunities on Nos. 11 and 13, before the Americans' turnaround started. “I hit some really quality shots on our back nine,” he said.
McIlroy’s three birdies on the front nine had helped the Europeans build their big lead.