GOLF

‘We’re still celebrating now’: 24 hours after rare back-to-back wins, Tony Finau is still smiling

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Professional golfer Tony Finau laughs as he and other golfers demonstrate golf shots during the Tony Finau Foundation Golf Classic in Farmington on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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FARMINGTON — Less than 24 hours after winning back-to-back PGA Tour titles for the first time in his career, Tony Finau barely had time to breathe — but alone to celebrate — his final honor at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit in as long as he ran through jokes, drills and friendly long-drive competition with local college golfers as part of a clinic with the Tony Finau Foundation Golf Classic.

There had been no celebratory steak dinner the night before, no morning run to McDonald’s – he didn’t even have most of his family with him except for his wife, Alayna, who surprised by showing up at his hotel on Saturday night before the final round.

Finau, after all, had work to do now. He had a charity golf tournament to organize, to benefit his Tony Finau Foundation, played annually at Oakridge Country Club in conjunction with the Utah Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour.

So Tony and Alayna Finau boarded a small flight that arrived at Provo airport late Sunday evening, and were instantly greeted by several dozen family members, friends and supporters to congratulate the four-time PGA Tour winner.

And then there was the dancing. Boy, was there dancing.

“We had to catch a flight right away, but we’re still celebrating now,” Finau said. “My wife had to drive the kids home from Minnesota after that first win, and she told me maybe I should go to Detroit to celebrate the win.

“I told him, it’s okay; when I get home, we’ll have two wins. I kind of put first in my mind to get back on track and be ready to go back to Detroit. “I was confident enough. … I knew I was playing well enough to get back out there on Sunday. And being able to close the deal was a nice feeling.

Finau likes to say that every week can be life-changing on the PGA Tour, where careers are made and others shattered by a putt, a drive or a change in the wind. He’s thought about it since he was a junior golfer, when his father and late mother drove him to local events on the Wasatch Front, before he drove for the show. and set for dough.

For the 32-year-old Rose Park native, it took two weeks – maybe not to prove he belonged on the PGA Tour (he’s been doing it for several years), but to show he could to win with the best of them. And in the previous 10 days, he’s established himself as a force, the first winner of back-to-back regular season events since 2019 with one of the hottest putters on the PGA Tour heading into the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Sunday was a little different, if only Finau closed out a tournament he led edge to edge, and won a field he led heading into Sunday’s final round for the first time in six tries.

There’s also no better place to enjoy it than in his home state of Utah.

“Utah is definitely my home,” said Finau, who splits his time between Lehi and Arizona, where his swing coach Boyd Summerhays lives. “I love being from Utah, I’m proud to represent Utah. I’ve been interviewing here since I was 7. To come back and celebrate this with Utah State and my amazing base of fans in Utah, that’s something.

“It’s pretty cool, and I think a lot of Utahns are proud of it.”

Finau was one of the highest rated players on the course in both the Twin Cities and Detroit, and his victory simply cemented him as one of the best golfers on the PGA Tour. He’s currently ranked No. 7 in the FedEx Cup standings, which will determine the start of the playoffs from two weeks away, and has moved up to No. 13 in the Official World Golf Rankings while all but solidifying a spot in the Presidents Cup roster.

Sage Finau looks up at his father, Tony, as he practices his swing at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington during the Tony Finau Foundation Golf Classic on Monday August 1, 2022.
Sage Finau looks up at his father, Tony, as he practices his swing at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington during the Tony Finau Foundation Golf Classic on Monday August 1, 2022. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News )

So naturally, as his star shines brighter and the wins roll on, the question will follow Finau – whether he likes it or not – about his PGA Tour allegiance. While several top golfers like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson have defected in recent weeks to the Saudi Investment Fund-backed LIV Golf series, Finau reaffirmed his allegiance on Monday to “the best tour in the world.” .

“For me, at this point in my career, it’s so much about the satisfaction of winning golf tournaments, of winning against the best players in the world, on what I consider to be the best circuit in the world.” he declared. “The satisfaction that comes with it, no amount of money can buy; it’s just an accomplishment I’m looking for, after all these years of hard work.

“Being at my best, having the opportunity to reap some of the rewards of victory, nothing can sum up how I feel.”

The last two weeks have been a breakthrough for those who have watched Finau’s career over the past 11 seasons – or more. But the breakthrough didn’t come with two wins, he disputes; a winner is just a loser who kept trying, he likes to say.

Finau does nothing different. But after a lifetime of drawing so closely, the results are starting to match his game.

“I don’t know if ‘breakthrough’ is the word; maybe a bit of relief in there. I think there’s a certain strength that comes from it and a certain confidence,” he said. “I’ve been very patient with myself over the years, to allow myself to grow into what I can become. I think now it’s cool to start seeing some of the results.”

Finau will take a week off, spend time with his family and prepare for the playoffs. After the regular season finale in North Carolina, the top 70 ranked players will earn a start in the FedEx St. Jude Championship, with 50 qualifying for the BMW Championship and 30 for the TOUR Championship. Purses were also high, with bonus pools totaling $145 million, including $75 million for the FedEx Cup champion.

“I’m excited for next week and the playoffs,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being in those areas and competing for a FedEx Cup.”

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A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has been covering BYU for KSL.com since 2015, while blending prep sports, education and whatever his editors throw at him.

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