U.S. captain Tiger Woods made Lehi resident Tony Finau his first pick on Thursday in completing the team for next month’s Presidents Cup golf competition in Australia.
Woods actually may have had himself in mind as the No. 1 choice, but Finau was the first player announced as a captain's pick for the American team, followed by Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland and Woods.
In a media teleconference, Finau described himself as “extremely pumped and excited to play for Tiger,” after receiving the news in “a phone call I'll remember forever.”
“Everyone on the team wants to play with Tony,” Woods said.
Woods was a big influence on Finau's developing a love for golf as he grew up in Salt Lake City's Rose Park neighborhood.
Sandy resident Mike Weir, a native Canadian, is an assistant captain for the International team that will host the matches Dec. 12-15 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Finau, 30, is the first homegrown Utahn to play in either the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup. Two-time State Amateur champion Preston Summerhays, the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur winner, will play in the Junior Presidents Cup the game week. Summerhays’ father, Boyd, is Finau’s coach.
Finau, the No. 14 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, was one of the top American performers in a losing effort vs. Europe in the Ryder Cup in Paris in 2018. “After that experience, you don’t want to miss any teams,” the West High School graduate said last summer, with U.S. squads competing annually in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.
He finished ninth in the U.S. standings for the Presidents Cup at the cutoff point, the BMW Championship in August, when eight players became automatic qualifiers: Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau.
Finau may have made the top eight, ahead of DeChambeau, but he lost points by falling from second place to fourth during the final round of the BMW Championship in the Chicago area.