Determined Finau perseveres to meaningful 3M Open victory
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Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
Tony Finau's Round 4 highlights from 3M Open
BLAINE, Minn. – After securing his third PGA TOUR title Sunday at the 3M Open, Tony Finau was greeted by fellow TOUR pro Scott Piercy.
Piercy held a four-stroke lead into the final round at TPC Twin Cities, five clear of Finau, and he maintained a healthy margin into the back nine, overcoming a troublesome blister suffered on his right heel earlier in the week that required going shoeless at times. Piercy was undone by a back-nine 41 Sunday, undone by a triple bogey at the par-4 14th hole, and Finau took the reins with three consecutive birdies on holes 14-16, highlighted by a 32-footer at the par-4 15th.
The two go back to 2007 when both competed in the Ultimate Game in Las Vegas, a high-stakes competition where Piercy earned $2 million as champion. Finau was just 17 at the time, having turned pro on the day he graduated from high school.
Finau spent upwards of seven years on mini-tours before earning Korn Ferry Tour status in 2014, earning his TOUR card that season and keeping it ever since. He has developed a reputation as a premier ball-striker and gritty competitor, despite critics who questioned whether he had the instincts to become a prolific TOUR winner after a string of near misses, recording eight runner-up finishes between his first two victories at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open and 2021 THE NORTHERN TRUST.
The emotional scene with Piercy was a microcosm of how Finau is viewed by his TOUR peers, respected for his tireless work ethic and humility. This grit paid off Sunday with the 3M Open title, as Finau carded a four-day total of 17-under at TPC Twin Cities, three clear of Emilano Grillo and Sungjae Im. Piercy finished T4, four back.
“That's the great thing about our sport,” said Finau of the respect shared between TOUR peers. “I've been on that side of it where you take your hat off and you just congratulate the guy that gets the job done because it takes a lot. It's tough to win out here. I mean, I think I'm about as good an example as any of how tough it is to seal the deal. Anytime you win one, it's awesome to get the respect of the guys that you're playing against, and I was really happy to see Scott. He was genuinely happy for me, which I think makes our game so great.”
With his victory, Finau moves to No. 17 in the FedExCup standings and also jumps from No. 11 to No. 7 in the United States Presidents Cup standings. He has represented the United States in three consecutive international team competitions (2018 Ryder Cup, 2019 Presidents Cup, 2021 Ryder Cup) and refers to these competitions as his most cherished experiences in the game – “it means everything, everything to your career,” he said on Friday.
The top six on the United States standings upon the conclusion of next month’s BMW Championship will earn guaranteed inclusion on the roster, with six Captain’s picks to follow. Finau has been a Captain’s pick in each of his three international competition appearances, and he’s now on the verge of earning automatic qualification across the next four weeks.
There’s no rest for the weary. After carding a final-round 66 at The Open at St. Andrews, Finau crossed seven time zones to compete at the 3M Open, and he’ll aim to maintain form in Detroit at next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Finau joked this week that being a father of five is the ultimate secret for quick adjustment to a time change – “a lot of people sleep, coffee is a huge thing, but when you have five kids in your face, as soon as you see them, jet lag’s all gone,” he said.
He enjoys the course and the area, renting a house on No. 10 at TPC Twin Cities, with quick access to a lake for fishing in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. He’s comfortable here, having finished T3 in 2020, and he remarked during the trophy ceremony that TPC Twin Cities is now his favorite course.
For the first time, Finau was able to celebrate a TOUR title with his wife and five kids on hand. They came out for hugs greenside after Finau tapped in for a closing bogey and final-round, 4-under 67 – matching the second-lowest score on a windy Sunday just north of Minneapolis.
Finau provided constant hugs and kisses between interview stops post-round, as his kids magnetized to a bounce house next to the locker room before accompanying their dad to the trophy ceremony.
“I’m 10 years older than him, but I look up to him,” said Finau’s caddie Mark Urbanek, who recently relocated to Minnesota with his wife and daughter. “He’s the real deal. If you’re going to model a father, someone to look up to … what he’s been able to accomplish and how humble he is, he’s just an unbelievable human. He’s an unbelievable golfer obviously, but as a person, it’s fun to be around him, and I look up to him myself.”
During his winner’s press conference Sunday, Finau alluded to “immense pressure” that he felt throughout the week. When asked about the source of this pressure, he revealed that he had read an article Wednesday that listed him as the 3M Open betting favorite, also noting he was the field’s second highest-ranked player on the Official World Golf Ranking (No. 16 entering the week, one spot behind Hideki Matsuyama).
“I read something and I was favored to win … for some reason, that just like all of a sudden put some added expectation and pressure on myself,” Finau said. “I knew I was playing well, but then it was like, oh, well, this is a crazy situation because if you win, everybody expected it. If you don't win, well, he can't win, right?
“I think that just added for some reason on Wednesday, there was like this added expectation. I know how golf is, that doesn't mean anything, everybody starts from scratch on hole 1, but to be able to play like I did, to win breeds a lot of confidence for me. I know I have what it takes when I play well to win golf tournaments no matter what magnitude, but you still have to win them to keep that type of confidence.”
Finau believes his ability to swing a golf club didn’t come naturally. He describes the process as “a lot of trial and error” to build a swing that allows him to produce an elite level of ball-striking. He hit 60 of 72 greens in regulation at TPC Twin Cities and led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, as his game peaked across four days on comfortable terrain.
“This was arguably the best I’ve seen him hit it in two years (working together),” said Urbanek. “This was off the charts.”
Finau’s success has been earned through determination and perseverance. From turning pro right out of high school, he has always believed in his ability to maximize his abilities. His peers admire him for it. It’s clear as to why.
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.