Utah’s Tony Finau opens the PGA Championship with a solid first round — but there’s room for improvement Friday

Plus tee times, pairings and how to watch the Utah golfer at the PGA Championship

(Nick Wass | AP) Tony Finau hits off the 15th tee during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament, Friday, May 6, 2022, at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm golf club in Potomac, Md.

Tulsa, Okla. • Like any good round, Tony Finau’s first tour of Southern Hills Country Club could have been even better.

The West High School graduate opened the PGA Championship with a 1-under-par 69, while missing two birdie attempts from inside of 10 feet on his second nine Thursday.

Finau bogeyed his first hole, the par-4 No. 10, when his wedge shot landed in a greenside bunker — but that was his only bogey on the day.

Finau birdied the par-5 No. 13 after chipping to within 2 feet and made a 22-foot putt for birdie on the difficult par-4 No. 2 after hitting a good iron shot from 187 yards. He never got better than 1 under, though, failing to take advantage of some excellent ball-striking on his last seven holes. Finau finished the round with a negative rating in the PGA Tour’s “strokes gained putting” statistic, compared with the rest of the field.

Even so, he’s solidly in position to earn his 14th career top-25 finish in a major tournament. A tie for eighth place in last May’s PGA Championship was Finau’s 10th top-10 placement in a major in his first 20 appearances. Since then, he has missed the cut in the U.S. Open, tied for 15th in the British Open and tied for 35th in the 2022 Masters.

The Utah golfer’s prep for the course most pros hadn’t seen since the 2007 PGA was simple: nine practice holes each day. For Finau’s coach, Boyd Summerhays, Southern Hills appeared to be a test that focuses first on a player’s driving ability.

“It’s a U.S. Open course, PGA Championship-type of course, so driving will be key so that you can control your second shots, because if not, the runoffs around the greens are going to be really difficult to get up and down from,” the coach said ahead of the tournament. " So it’s a second-shot golf course, too.”

And at the moment, Summerhays likes what he sees from his player’s driving and iron play.

“Tony’s been driving it great and hitting the ball really well. It’s a ball-striker’s golf course for sure. The greens are so severe,” Summerhays said.

The greens were so severe that according to a tweet from Golf Digest’s Dan Rapaport, Finau and fellow tour pro Max Homa looked for the toughest putt on every green and challenged each other, caddies and Summerhays to putt from there. The group offered to pay a collective $100 to the first who made one of these choice putts.

After walking nine holes with Finau each day, Finau’s caddie likes what he sees from his player’s driving.

Just how well is Finau driving it?

“Fantastic,” Mark Urbanek said. “You gotta drive the ball in the fairway here. It sounds cliche, but you can’t score out here from the rough at all.”

Summerhays also sees trouble off the tee.

“There’s some space off the tee to be able to hit it in the fairways, but you better hit them or else you’re in trouble for sure,” Summerhays said.

Finau avoided most of that trouble Thursday, as he hit 12 of the last 17 greens in regulation and made some nice par saves.

Finau will tee off at 12:03 p.m. MDT in Friday’s second round, looking to make the 36-hole cut in a major for the 20th time.

How to watch Tony Finau at the PGA Championship


Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele

Tee times

Thursday, 6:38 a.m. MT; Friday, 12:03 p.m. MT

TV and streaming

Thursday: ESPN+ 6 a.m-noon MT; ESPN noon-6 p.m.

Friday: ESPN+ 6 a.m-noon MT; ESPN noon-6 p.m.

Saturday: ESPN+ 6-8 a.m.; ESPN 8-11 a.m.; CBS 11 a.m.-5 p.m

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