For years, golf fans wondered when Tony Finau would get his next win. Now, that could happen in just a few days.
Finau finally claimed second place last August at the Northern Trust, more than five years after his first win at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. But after capturing the No. 3 PGA Tour title last week at the 3M Open, he finds himself at the top of the leaderboard again after shooting a bogey-free 64 on Thursday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. And he didn’t even need lucky rebounds on the stands!
“This game is a fun game because sometimes you play well and the next week you’re a bit flat, sometimes you play well and you keep going,” Finau told reporters afterwards. “It was good to continue after last week and continue today.”
But as Finau suddenly begins to rack up the trophies, he achieves a career first in his first round. Finau hit all 18 greens in regulation at Detroit Golf Club, something he had never done in 727 previous rounds on the PGA Tour. And that made her day beautiful, well…
“I hate to say easy. Those are just words I don’t like to use, but it was good to have hit as many fairways as I did to open the green for me today,” Finau said. “Yeah, that’s cool. I didn’t know that fact until today, that I hadn’t hit all 18 greens, so to be able to do that here today, that’s pretty cool.”
Also pretty cool, especially for a huge sports fan like Tony Finau, is that the property’s top athlete this week, former Detroit Lion and Pro Football Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, said that one of the things what he was most looking forward to was watching Finau play. Well, if he was in the galleries today, he saw one hell of a show.
“Yeah, it’s amazing,” Finau said. “I got to meet him for the first time at the 313 Challenge on Wednesday, and I told him there’s only one jersey in the NFL that I own and that’s a Calvin Johnson jersey, if big fan of his. And I was sad when he retired, but I completely understood that decision. I was a big fan of him, so I’m quite honored that he has a high opinion of my game and me. The feelings are very mutual and I have a lot of respect for him.”
Here’s the rest of our Thursday takeaways from Detroit.
Tony Finau wasn’t the only golfer to enjoy good crowd support – and shoot 64 – on Thursday. Taylor Pendrith tied Finau for the first-round lead in what could be a truly special week for the Canadian.
Pendrith, an Ontario native, said he had lots of family and friends in attendance at the Detroit Golf Club.
“My wife and I drove here on Monday, it was like three and a half hours,” Pendrith said. “Pretty close. It’s like a home game.”
And so far, the 31-year-old’s performance has definitely been worth it. Known for his pop off the tee, Pendrith won more than three strokes with his approach play and putting on Thursday.
Pendrith enters this week ranked 104th on the FedEx Cup points list in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, but that’s a little misleading due to all the time he’s missed. A cracked rib caused him to miss a few months after the Players Championship and a positive COVID test delayed his return this summer. But he entered the consecutive top 15 at the Barbasol and Barracuda championships this week.
“It’s been a long journey,” Pendrith said. “I’ve done the Mackenzie Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, Mackenzie Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and now finally here with a few injuries in between. I think it shows all the hard work has paid off and when I’m healthy, I can compete with the best. It’s been – aside from the injury, it’s been a great rookie year so far and it’s just nice to be back.
With Cameron Smith winning the Players and Open Championship, Cameron Young’s impressive rookie campaign and even Cameron Davis being the defending champion of this event, golf is in the middle of the Cameron era. But don’t forget Cameron Champ.
Champ, a three-time PGA Tour winner, had his own injuries to overcome in 2022, but he looked healthy on Thursday with an opening 66 to put him in a tie for third, two strokes behind Finau and Pendrith.
The 27-year-old had a weird season that seemed headed in the right direction after a T-10 at the Masters and a T-6 at the Mexican Open. But soon after, he missed five straight cuts before a T-16 last week.
He’s down Cameron, though, at the moment. And these days, that means you’re really into golf.
Webb Simpson entered this week as the FedEx Cup bubble boy at No. 125. And while he may have some cushion thanks to all the LIV Golf defectors, the seven-time PGA Tour winner certainly wouldn’t. not bothered with a strong performance to give. him a little respite. So far, so good.
Simpson started with 66, and afterwards admitted to training hard on his rest week.
“I flew to Vegas, worked on my golf swing a bit,” Simpson said. “I’m just trying to get a little more extension in my backswing and in my throughswing to take that face rotation out a little bit so my misses are a little bit better and I’m hitting more shots, kick shots. quality with good shots, which I “I had a little trouble hitting the ball solidly every time. So today I landed just about every solid shot except one.”
It wasn’t his best season, but the score was another reminder of Simpson’s quality since joining the PGA Tour. Check out this mind-blowing stat from Twenty First Group Chief Content Officer, Justin Ray:
In other words, there’s potentially a lot more where this came from.