December 2, 2022
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Career low has Finau in front ahead of RBC Canadian finale

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Tony Finau, of the United States, tees off on the 14th hole during the second round of the Mexico Open at Vidanta in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Friday, April 29, 2022. Finau shot 8-under 62 for a share of the lead Saturday in the RBC Canadian Open. (Eduardo Verdugo, Associated Press)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Just imagine where Tony Finau could be if his second round matched his first or his third.

A share of the lead before the final 18 holes at the RBC Canadian Open will have to do.

Finau tied a career low Saturday, firing 8-under-par 62 to take a share of the lead into the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at St. Georges Golf and Country Club in Toronto. The Rose Park native fired a blistering 29 on the front nine, capped by an eagle on the par-5, 541-yard ninth hole, to tie world No. 8-ranked Rory McIlroy, who shot 65 on moving day.

Then again, Saturday’s 62 may be — at least in part, if you hear Finau say it — due to the 71 he shot Friday. After carding 4-under 66 in Thursday’s opening round to for a top-10 look, the 32-year-old Finau didn’t have all of his best stuff a day later.

He did by Saturday, though.

“I played nicely. I didn’t finish the way I wanted to yesterday and I think all it did was kind of light a fire in my belly to get after it today,” Finau said after his round. “That’s pretty much what I did. I made some birdies and I just played really clean golf.

“Then when I made an eagle on 9 I kind of knew then I was like, oh, wow, we’re climbing up that leaderboard. And any time you’re at the top of the leaderboard and have a chance to win on a Sunday on the PGA Tour it’s exciting. So I’m happy with the round.”

With a chunk of the PGA Tour’s top golfers playing in the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf event in England, Finau opened the round with a birdie on the first hole, and never let up, adding birdies on the par-3 sixth and eighth holes before burying a 37-foot putt for eagle to card 29 on the front nine. The long driver averaged 311.2 yards off the tee and hit 66.7% of greens in regulation en route to seven birdies, a bogey and an eagle, setting himself up for a run at the RBC Canadian Open title on the weekend.

Saturday was the fourth time Finau has carded 62 in a PGA event, and the first since the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2020. He held a two-shot lead in the final round of that event before Webb Simpson made two birdies in a span of 20 minutes to end the Utah native’s run for a rare PGA Tour victory.

So Finau knows he’s a long way from a victory. But even he’ll admit, he’s put himself in a good spot as he prepares to tee off Sunday with McIlroy and Justin Thomas in the final group at 10:51 a.m. MDT, an average World Golf Ranking of 10.67 among the trio.

“You kind of know where you’re at, but you’re so focused at the task at hand,” Finau said. “You never want to get ahead of yourself, you guys probably hear that all the time, at least when guys are playing well. That’s kind of how it was. I knew I was playing well, but at any given moment on this golf course you can make a number.

“So there’s no reason to get ahead of myself, I just tried to stay in the moment as much as I could and put together a nice round all the way to the end.”

Thomas, Sam Burns and early leader Wyndham Clark are tied for third at 9-under, followed by Austin Cook and Jim Knous two shots back. Thomas shot the second-lowest round of the day at 63.

“I didn’t do anything great, I just didn’t do anything bad,” said Thomas, who was 5-under with an eagle on the par-5 15th on the second nine. “When I got out of the position I felt like I either put it in a spot on the green where I could manage to 2-putt or if I didn’t then I put it in a spot where I felt like it was an easy up-and-down.

“But I took advantage of some of the opportunities when I had them there in kind of the middle of the course and just stayed patient and waited for my run.”

Finau, a two-time PGA Tour champion has 49 top-10 appearances, has been in contention before. Finishing has been perhaps his biggest issue, and it will be Sunday, with McIlroy and Co. on his heels.

But to be leading Canadian’s national championship? It’s hard to ask for much more for noted Drake fan Finau.

“It always feels good when you’re playing well. In golf you start to get emotionally attached to your game a little bit,” he said. “When you’re not playing as well, you might not be feeling as well. When you’re playing great, you’re feeling great. You try to even that out as much as you can. But it’s usually always good vibes when you’re playing well and that’s definitely the case this week.”

Sean Walker graduated from Syracuse University and returned to his home state to work for KSL.com covering BYU, prep sports and anything else his editors assign him to do. When he’s not covering a game, he’s usually listening to Broadway soundtracks or hiking with his dog.

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