Finau shoots 66 to win Stonebrae Classic by three
August 03, 2014
By Joe Chemycz, PGATOUR.COM
- Tony Finau will play on the PGA TOUR next season thanks to his win. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
HAYWARD, Calif. -- Tony Finau fired a 4-under-par 66 Sunday and pulled away from the field to win the Web.com Tour's Stonebrae Classic by three strokes over Argentina's Fabian Gomez, rookie Daniel Berger and Zack Sucher, winner of last week’s Midwest Classic.
Finau used a combination of power and control to set a tournament record with his 22-under score of 258, which also tied the second-lowest 72-hole score in Tour history.
The big-hitting Tour rookie from Utah collected a first-place check for $108,000 and vaulted from No. 24 to No. 8 on the money list. With only three events remaining in the regular season, Finau also stamped his ticket to the PGA TOUR for the upcoming 2014-15 campaign.
"I'm overwhelmed. This probably won’t sink in for a few days," he said after hoisting the champion’s trophy. "I got a little bit of goosebumps walking up the 18th fairway just thinking about how far I've come the past few years.”
Finau started the final day with a one-shot lead on a crowded leaderboard but never got nervous as he slowly took apart the par-70 layout atop the hills in Hayward.
"This was fun," he beamed. "I really enjoyed today. It definitely wasn't easy coming down the stretch but I had a lot of fun. I was proud of how I stayed in the moment. I kept telling myself that the most important shot is the next one."
Finau's biggest challenge came at the 315-yard, 14th hole, certainly reachable for a guy who averaged 329 yards off the tee this week.
He was 21-under at the time and leading by one. Naturally he took out driver.
"I think I hit more drivers this week than any week this year," he said. "I knew I could get up near the green and hopefully make birdie."
Instead he yanked his tee into a tree at the far end of the teeing ground.
"It didn’t go 20 yards," he said. "The ball wound up in some big weeds but I could get a club on the next one."
Finau popped a 6-iron down the fairway, hit a wedge from 90 yards to within 7 feet and canned the putt for the most important par of the day.
"That was huge," he said. "There's no telling what could have gone through my mind if I had messed up that hole."
Finau reset the panic button to calm and promptly birdied the par-5, 15th with a 10-foot putt, upping his lead to two.
When Gomez made bogey at the 17th in front of Finau, the lead grew to three, where it would remain as the Tour’s 13th first-time winner closed with a trio of two-putt pars.
Ash Hall, Blayne Barber and Colt Knost all finished at 18-under and tied for fifth place. Cal rookie Max Homa and Nicholas Lindheim were at 17-under and shared eighth place.
Tony Finau wins the Stonebrae Classic
FOURTH ROUND NOTES:
• Early morning fog delayed the start of the fourth round until 10:45 a.m. Play was originally scheduled to be in twosomes but was changed to threesomes as a result of the delay. Play was off the 1st and 10th tees.
• Sunday weather: Morning fog and then partly cloudy. Wind W 7-15 mph. High of 75.
• 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).
• Tony Finau (FEE-now) was born and raised in Utah. He played high school basketball at West HS in Salt Lake City and had Division I scholarship offers from both Utah and Utah State but chose golf instead
“The numbers just weren’t with me,” he said. “I knew from the age of 13 I wanted to play golf.”
He now lives in Lehi, Utah, which is about halfway between Salt Lake City and Provo, with his wife and two children.
• Finau earns his first career win in his 23rd Web.com Tour start.
• Finau has now made 13 cuts in 17 starts and has four top-10 finishes.
• Finau, who turned pro when he was 17, wins at the age of 24 years, 10 months, 21 days.
• Finau collects a paycheck for $108,000 and pushes his season earnings to $238,125. He moves from No. 24 to No. 8 on the money list after 18 of 21 regular season events.
• Finau becomes the 13th first-time winner on Tour in 18 events this year.
• Finau becomes the 5th rookie to win on Tour this year.
• Finau’s 22-under-par score of 258 is the lowest total on Tour this year, bettering Jon Curran’s 259 score (25-under) at the Brasil Champions.
• Finau’s winning score of 258 matches the second-lowest in Web.com Tour history:
255 (66-60-65-64) Steve Wheatcroft, University of Maryland GC (par 71), College Park, Md., in winning the 2011 Melwood Prince George's County Open (29-under)
Chris Smith, The Champions Club (par 71), Omaha, Neb., in winning the 1997 Omaha Classic (26-under) 258 (65-63-65-65) Daniel Chopra, The Dominion Club (par 72), Glen Allen, Va., in winning the 2004 Henrico County Open (30-under) 258 (65-63-65-65) James Nitties, Nicklaus GC at LionsGate (par 71), Overland Park, Kan., in winning the 2011 Midwest Classic (26-under) 258 (67-62-63-66) TONY FINAU, TPC Stonebrae (par 70), Hayward, Calif., in winning the 2014 Stonebrae Classic
• Finau’s 22-under score of 258 also bettered the tournament record of 264 ((20-under) set by Kevin Chappell in 2010.
• Finau played on PGA Tour Canada in 2013. He made seven cuts in eight starts and had a pair of top-10 finishes while ending the year No. 29 on the Tour’s Order of Merit.
• Zack Sucher continues to hold the hottest hand on Tour. Zucher has now finished 19-under par in each of his last three tournaments. He was T4 at the Albertsons Boise Open and won the Midwest Classic the previous two weeks. He inched up one spot on the money to No. 3 with his effort this week.
• Rookie Daniel Berger’s T2 finish is his best in 16 starts this year. He now how five top-10’s, including a pair of T3’s. His payday of $44,800 gives him $193,584 and bumps him to No. 13 on the money list, assuring him a trip to the PGA TOUR for the 2014-15 season which starts in October.
• Fabian Gomez jumped into the top-25 with his stellar play this week. Gomez, who was in search of his second career win, vaulted 12 spots to No. 24.
• Blayne Barber, winner of the South Georgia Classic, moved up three spots to No. 6, courtesy of his T5 finish.
• Colt Knost gained a big boost with his T5 this week. The former U.S. Amateur Champion jumped from 77 to 53 with his first top-10 finish on Tour since he lost a playoff at the 2010 Tour Championship. Knost’s last top-10 was on the PGA TOUR, a solo third place finish at the 2012 RBC Heritage. He did not have a single top-10 in 25 starts on the PGA TOUR in 2013, nor did he have any in his first 16 Web.com Tour starts this year.
• Monday qualifier Gregor Main earned a start in next week’s Price Cutter Charity Championship by virtue of his T11 finish this week. Main posted a 5-under 65 Sunday that included a 6-under 29 on the front nine. Main, a three-time All-American at UCLA birdied No. 11 and was 7-under for the day but followed with consecutive bogeys and then closed his round with five straight pars.
This was Main’s second career start on the Web.com Tour. He missed the cut at this event in 2012 after gaining entry as a sponsor exemption.
This was Main’s first Tour payday – he earned $13,800. The 25-year old from Danville, Calif., made the cut in his first career start on the PGA TOUR, but was an amateur when he finished 70th at the 2009 Buick Invitational. He was still an amateur when he missed the cut at the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational. He also received a sponsor exemption into the 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open and played as a professional for the first time but missed the cut.
• Bill Lunde finished T11 this week, ending his stretch of three consecutive top-10 finishes.
• Andrew Putnam, No. 2 on the money list, finished T25 and collected $5,006, bringing his season total to $320,438. He still trails leading money winner Carlos Ortiz (missed the cut) by $50,965 with three weeks to go in the regular season. Putnam will take the next two weeks off – Price Cutter Charity Championship and News Sentinel Open – and return to play the final regular season event, the WinCo Foods Portland Open Aug. 21-24.
• 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.