Finau grabs 54-hole lead at Stonebrae Classic
August 02, 2014
By Joe Chemycz, PGATOUR.COM
- Tony Finau leads by one with one round to go at the Stonebrae Classic. (Cohen/Getty Images)
HAYWARD, Calif. – Big-hitting Tony Finau of Utah powered his way to a 7-under 63 Saturday and moved atop a packed leaderboard after 54 holes of the Stonebrae Classic. Finau has blasted his way to an 18-under 192 score, one better than rookies Daniel Berger (62) and Nicholas Lindheim (63) along with 36-hole leader Fabian Gomez (67).
Former U.S. Amateur champion Colt Knost (64) is two shots back while Zack Sucher (62), Ash Hall (65) and Blayne Barber share sixth place, just three off the lead.
Finau was treading water on the front when his tee shot at the downhill, par-5th 9th hole found a fairway bunker. He was forced to chip out and he wound up making one of just seven bogeys on a hole that played to an average 0f 4.52.
“I had a sour taste in my mouth because on a day like today a lot of guys are moving and bogeys aren’t going to do you any good,” he said. “I’m a leaderboard watcher and every time I look at it guys just keep climbing and climbing. It forces you to make some birdies.”
And that’s exactly what he did. Finau rolled in a 30-footer from the fringe at No. 12 and then added four in a row starting at No. 14.
“It’s nice to make a lot of good swings but you’ve got to make good putts to make some birdies,” he said. “I’ve been hitting it nicely all week but it’s good to see them fall in at the end.”
Finau is now being chased for the first time, though he’s been in the hunt several times this year.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and the way I react and such,” he said of previous tries to secure his first career win. “I think I was a little anxious at times. I was looking ahead a little bit. The most important thing I learned is that I have to stay in the moment. There’s nothing you can do about the future or the past and I’ve done a great job of that for three rounds.”
Daniel Berger’s 8-under 62 was the low round of the day it moved the former Florida State All-American into Sunday’s final pairing. Berger was nothing but smiles following his career-low round.
“When you shoot 62 everything’s pretty good. I think it could have been even better. It could have been 59, easily,” he gushed. “I’ve hit the ball so good the last three days. In the past I haven’t really played that well on Saturday so today I came out with a ‘no expectation’ attitude and just tried to play some golf.”
His devil-may-care attitude was what propelled him to three top-10 finishes in his first six starts this year and he’s hoping he’s rediscovered that feeling.
“I was putting too much pressure on myself. Today I went out and really didn’t care,” he said. “It’s been a little tougher the past five or six weeks. I’ve been looking at scoreboards a little too much and paying too much attention to the money list instead of just playing golf.”
Berger was as high as No. 7 on the money list in April but has slowly fallen to No. 19. This is the 18th of 21 regular season events on the Tour schedule and the top-25 on the list at the end will earn their 2014-15 PGA TOUR cards.
“I was more relaxed today and not so result oriented,” he said. “If I’m ready for the TOUR, I’m ready and if not I’ll be back and hopefully I’ll have what it takes to get there next year. It’s just a good experience.”
Tony Finau slides into the lead at Stonebrae
THIRD ROUND NOTES:
• Early morning fog delayed the start of the third round for 2:15. Play began at 9:26 a.m.
• Fourth-round play will be in twosomes off the first tee starting at 7:12 a.m.
• The Stonebrae Classic was played from 2009-12 but was not on the 2013 schedule due to construction of a new clubhouse. Previous tournament winners were Michael Sim (2009), Kevin Chappell (2010), Daniel Chopra (2011) and Alex Aragon (2012).
• Finau’s 18-under 192 total broke the tournament’s 54-hole record of 198 (15-under) set by David Hearn in 2010 and matched by Daniel Chopra in 2011. In fact, the top-10 players on the leaderboard all bettered the old tournament mark of 198.
• This is the first time that Finau has held/shared a 54-lead. His previous best came at this year’s United Leasing Championship, where he was in second place after three rounds.
• Finau’s 125 total in the second and third rounds ties the second-lowest total for consecutive rounds in Web.com Tour history:
Two consecutive rounds
Kevin Chappell, The Georgian Bay Club (par 71), Raven GC at Lora Bay (par 72), first and second rounds, Ontario, Canada, 2010 Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic (19-under)
Jason Day, Champions Run (par 71), third and fourth rounds, Omaha, Neb., 2007 Cox Classic (17-under)
Jeff Freeman, Hardscrabble CC (par 70), third and fourth rounds, Fort Smith, Ark., 2001 Fort Smith Classic (15-under)
Jason Gore, Whirlwind GC (Devil's Claw), (par 71), first and second rounds, Chandler, Ariz., 2002 Gila River Golf Classic (17-under)
David Branshaw, Whirlwind GC (Devil's Claw), (par 71), second and third rounds, Chandler, Ariz., 2002 Gila River Golf Classic (17-under)
Webb Simpson, Black Creek Club (par 72), first and second rounds, Chattanooga, Tenn., 2008 Chattanooga Classic (19-under)
Steve Wheatcroft, University of Maryland GC (par 71), second and third rounds, College Park, Md., 2011 Melwood Prince George's County Open (17-under)
Josh Geary, Nicklaus GC at Lionsgate, (par 71), second and third rounds, Overland Park, Kan., 2011 Midwest Classic (17-under)
Luke Guthrie, Champions Run, (par 71), first and second rounds, Omaha, Neb., 2012 Cox Classic (17-under)
Steven Alker, Willow Creek CC, (par 71), second and third rounds, Sandy, Utah, 2013 Utah Championship (17-under)
Jon Curran, Sao Paulo GC (par 71), first and second rounds, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2014 Brasil Champions (17-under)
Tony Finau, TPC Stonebrae (par 70), second and third rounds. Hayward, Calif., 2014 Stonebrae Classic (15-under)
• Daniel Berger’s 62 is a season/career best. His previous low scores was 64, which he posted in both the first and second rounds of the Brasil Champions back in March.
• Over the past three weeks Zack Sucher has posted scores of 60, 62 (today), 63 and 64.
• In his last three starts/11 rounds – Albertsons Boise Open (T4), Midwest Classic (1st) and Stonebrae Classic – Sucher is a cumulative 53-under par and has a scoring average of 65.9. In his first 15 starts, Sucher was a cumulative 69-under par and had a scoring average of 69.8.
“It’s just awesome right now. These low numbers have been so much fun. I just want to keep this going,” he said. “The putter is doing the work. The hole looks really big right now. It all started clicking in Boise and I’ve putted great since then.”
One small adjustment to his putter changed everything. One of the equipment representatives checked his putter and found it to be several degrees more upright than it should have been.
“He changed it and we added a new grip and it’s just been awesome,” said Sucher. “Before then I didn’t putt great. It was streaky and I had some good putting nines but nothing like this.”
• Cal alum Max Homa birdied three of his final five holes for a 7-under 63. Homa is at 13-under 200 and in 10th place heading into Sunday’s final round. Homa’s 63 matched his best score of the year – he carded an 8-under 63 in the final round and came from behind to win the BMW Charity Pro-Am earlier this year.
• Auburn grad Michael Hebert, 23, moved into contention with a 7-under 63 that put him at 10-under 200 (T____). Hebert, who grew up in the Orlando area, opened with a 6-under 29 on the front nine. Hebert is making only the third start of the year, and his career. He finished T46 at the Nova Scotia Open and then missed the cut at last week’s Midwest Classic.
• Michael Sim, the Tour’s Player of the Year in 2009, posted an even-par 70 and is at 4-under 206 (T58). Proving that golf is fickle game, Sim hit only 7 of 13 fairways Saturday after a perfect 26-for-26 start. He also managed to hit only 12 greens in regulation after missing only three in the first two rounds.
• Philip Pettitt Jr. shot a one-over 71 with seven birdies on his card. Pettitt also had three bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey.
• Jeff Gove’s 64 today tied his low round of the year.
• NEXT WEEK: The Web.com Tour heads back to the Midwest for the 25th Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club (Aug. 4-10), th3 19th of 21 regular season events on the schedule. Last year Andrew Svoboda fired a final round, 8-under 64 to come from two shots off the pace and earn his first career title. Svoboda was flawless on Sunday, hitting all 18 greens in regulation. The former St. John’s University standout finished at 22-under 266 and won by three shots over Brazil’s Fernando Mechereffe. This year’s purse will total $675,000 with $121,500 to the winner.