Utah’s Tony Finau misses cut at U.S. Open, breaking streak of eight cuts made in major golf championships

Tony Finau hits his tee shot on the ninth hole as second round play continues during the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

Pebble Beach, Calif. • As he stood on a practice green about 100 yards away from where he had just made a bogey on the final hole of his second round to kill his chances of making the cut at the U.S. Open, Tony Finau faced a question he hasn’t had since 2016.

What will he do this weekend?

“Not sure yet,” Finau said. “Haven’t thought too much about it.”

Why would he?

For the first time since he missed the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship, Finau won’t play the weekend of a major golf championship. His streak of making the cut in eight straight majors — which started when he tied for 27th in the 2017 British Open (he didn’t play in the U.S. Open or Masters that year) — is over.

The West High product and Lehi resident who is No. 14 in the latest World Golf Rankings shot a 1-over-par 72 on Friday at Pebble Beach Golf Links and finished at 4-over-par 146. The cut was expected to come at 1-over 143.

“It was just not my week,” Finau said, having shot a 3-over 74 in Thursday’s opening round. “I didn’t make very many birdies. Usually I get on runs. My caddie said, ‘let’s get something going, maybe get on a run.’ I just wasn’t able to do it this week, so unfortunately I am going home early.”

Fellow Utahns Zac Blair and Mike Weir also missed the cut, with Blair ending at 13-over 155 and Weir at 6-over 148.

Blair’s round Friday was redemptive, considering he made a 13-shot improvement with a 72 after Thursday’s disastrous 83 that left him tied for last place. He will go back to the Web.com Tour, where he’s No. 52 in the season standings, having regained some confidence that was seemingly lost on Thursday.

The former BYU golfer appeared to be in danger of posting another awful round when he made a double bogey on the second hole and bogeys on holes 3-5. But he made five birdies in his final 13 holes and finished better than at least three other golfers.

Blair will play in the Web.com’s Utah Championship later this month at Oakridge Country Club.

Weir, a 49-year-old Canadian who lives in Sandy, was right around the cut line at 3-over when he teed off Friday afternoon. He couldn’t get putts to drop on the easier front nine and made the turn at 2-over for the day. Bogeys on 10 and 13 sealed his fate and ensured no golfers with Utah ties will be playing on the weekend if you don’t count Las Vegas’ Scott Piercy, who started his college career at BYU before transferring to San Diego State.

Finau started his day with a birdie on his first hole, the par-4 10th, to regain some momentum he squandered with a bogey on the 18th hole Thursday night. However, he missed a couple birdie opportunities in the following holes and then made bogeys on 15 and 18 (again).

“I had a little bit of problem with my wedge yesterday,” Finau said. “I [had] put a new 60 degree wedge in and I hit some funny shots with it. So I put my old one in today and I got up and down from just about everywhere, so that might have cost me a couple shots — putting in a new wedge this week.”

Finau birdied the par-5 4th hole and was close to the cut line, but made a bogey on the signature No. 7 hole, a short par-3, when his tee shot was long.

“Sometimes it is good to watch somebody else hit first,” he said, saying he didn’t account enough for what the wind would do. "I felt like I was kinda the Guinea pig there. … The fact that it flew 4 or 5 yards over the green, the two guys I played with were able to learn from that.”

Finau made a birdie on No. 8, one of the most difficult holes on the course, but faltered on No. 9 after driving into the rough, and took a bogey that pushed him to 4-over and freed up his weekend.

“I knew I had to make a birdie-birdie finish if I was going to have any kind of chance to play on the weekend,” he said. “I made birdie on 8, so that was big. Unfortunately I didn’t make birdie on 9.”

Finau said he will play in the Travelers Championship in Connecticut next week, then take a week off before playing in a new tournament in Minnesota the following week. Then he’s off to the British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland.

And hoping to start a new streak in the majors.

Tony Finau in golf majors since missing cut in 2016 PGA Championship

2017 British Open — Tied for 27th

2017 PGA Championship — Tied for 44th

2018 Masters — Tied for 10th

2018 U.S. Open — Fifth

2018 British Open — Tied for 9th

2018 PGA Championship — Tied for 44

2019 Masters — Tied for fifth

2019 PGA Championship — Tied for 64th

2019 U.S. Open — Misses cut