Tony Finau looks for second win in two weeks at Rocket Mortgage Classic
Shot third-round 65 to go into final round tied with Canadian rookie Taylor Pendrith
July 30, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- Tony Finau sits in a tie atop the leaderboard with Taylor Pendrith at 21-under. (Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
DETROIT – Tony Finau is making the game look easy.
He does that sometimes.
One week after capturing his third PGA TOUR title at the 3M Open, Finau shot a third-round 65 to tie playing partner Taylor Pendrith (66) for the lead at 21 under at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. They’re four clear of Cameron Young (65), five ahead of Stephan Jaeger (65).
“Taylor's playing some great golf,” Finau said. “I can't say we pulled away from the guys, this is the type of golf course where someone can shoot 8, 9, 10 under, but if we put together a good round tomorrow, might be a two‑man race and I'm looking forward to the challenge again.”
The tournament scoring record (25 under, Nate Lashley, 2019) is very much in jeopardy.
Patrick Cantlay (66) is six back, but the reigning FedExCup champ has work to do.
If it comes down to a two-man race Sunday, Pendrith would be considered the underdog. The 6-foot-5-inch Canadian is a TOUR rookie at 31 and ranked 237th in the world. (Finau is 16th.) Pendrith hasn’t even played all the much this year, taking a 12-week break to heal a fractured rib, an injury he says he suffered while simply swinging a club.
Although he earned his TOUR card by virtue of his finish (No. 5) on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List last season, Pendrith was one of three players to do so without a victory. Nevertheless, he, too, is firing on all cylinders in the Motor City, making eight birdies Saturday, including four in the last five holes to pull into a tie for the lead.
“Yeah, it was cool,” he said. “Obviously he made a ton of birdies and I finished the round with a lot of birdies, so it was fun. We were going back and forth. Tony bombs it off the tee and I hit it far as well, so it was fun, kind of similar games I guess, and we attacked it very well.”
Young, who finished T3 at the PGA Championship and second at The Open Championship, is the leading contender for PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year. He thought he was going to be five behind going into the final round, and said, “I have to play a ridiculous round of golf tomorrow to have any chance.” But even at four back, he’ll likely still need a ridiculous round.
Finau is usually a tee-to-green superstar, and this week is no different. He hit 13 of 14 fairways Saturday, and for the second straight day hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation. Add his first-round effort of 18 for 18, a career first, and he’s 50 for 54.
“Yeah, I think that's a big reason I've been hitting so many greens,” he said. “I'm just hitting a lot more fairways than I'm accustomed to or than I have in the past. This golf course really opens up to you if you hit it in the short grass and it definitely has for me these first three rounds.”
He’s also 7th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (4.398), a potent one-two punch, and he has yet to make a single bogey this week. His highlight Saturday may have been his towering flop shot third at the par-5 14th hole, where, out of the rough to a green running away from him, it was going to be hard to stop the ball if it didn’t hit the hole. That’s exactly what it did – when you’re on, you’re on – before stopping 8 feet, 2 inches past the pin. He made the putt.
The last player to win in back-to-back weeks during the FedExCup Regular Season was Brendon Todd in 2019. The last to win in back-to-back starts was Xander Schauffele earlier this season, at the Travelers Championship and Genesis Scottish Open. Scottie Scheffler (World Golf Championships-Dell Technology Match Play, Masters Tournament) also pulled it off this year.
“I feel like I hit it as good as I've hit it from tee to green last week, so I think I've definitely elevated that part of the game,” Finau said. “It's nice to capitalize on some of the putts.”