Tony Finau will always remember being part of a seven-way tie for the lead in the final round of a major golf tournament. His problem Sunday was that Finau’s parring the last four holes was not good enough, thanks to Collin Morikawa’s late surge to win the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Finau’s closing 66 hardly resembled his weekend struggles in other opportunities to win PGA Tour events this summer. The West High School graduate was “happy to make a charge,” he said, concluding “a very encouraging week for me overall.”
A tie for fourth place at 10 under par extended his series of strong performances in the majors. Starting with the 2018 Masters, Finau has posted six top-10 finishes in nine starts on golf’s biggest stages. He placed third in the 2019 British Open, which remained the most recent major until the PGA, due to COVID-19 scheduling adjustments.
“It’s great to put yourself in that position,” Finau said, “but when I teed off this afternoon, I wanted to win the golf tournament and not have a close finish.”
Sunday’s round offered him his best late-round chance of winning a major, even on a very crowded leaderboard. Finau responded to his only bogey of the day (on the par-4 No. 12) with birdie putts of 22 and 20 feet on the next two holes, joining the tie for the lead.
Finau’s only failing was not giving himself any genuine birdie opportunities on the last four holes. On the drivable par-4 No. 16, for example, his tee shot with a 3-wood went into the right rough. He couldn’t aim at the flagstick with his approach shot over a bunker and had to be content with a par.
Finau nearly holed a chip shot from the rough on No. 17, while salvaging another par, and he missed a 37-foot birdie try on No. 18.
In other words, he couldn’t summon any of Morikawa’s magic. Fifteen months ago, as a University of California senior, Morikawa rallied in the final round to overtake Utah’s Kyler Dunkle and win the Pac-12 Championship.
In Sunday’s case, Morikawa pulled away from Finau and the other contenders with a chip-in birdie on No. 14 and an eagle on No. 16 after driving the green. Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson, who birdied No. 18, tied for second and bumped Finau to a tie for fourth.
Having moved to No. 22 in the FedEx Cup standings for the shortened 2019-20 season, Finau will skip this week’s final regular-season tournament and prepare for the three-event Playoffs. He’s likely to remain in the top 30 and qualify for the Tour Championship on Labor Day Weekend.
Finau’s next major tournament is the U.S. Open, Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot Country Club in New York, where two-time State Amateur champion Preston Summerhays also will compete.