Tony Finau Matches Career Low, Sets Target At Houston Open

Mar 29, 2024, 10:13 PM


Tony Finau of the United States walks to the fourth tee during the second round of the Texas Children's Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course on March 29, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

(Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

HOUSTON (AP)Tony Finau matched his career low on the PGA Tour with an 8-under 62 on Friday, taking a two-shot lead into the weekend with hopes of winning back-to-back — 16 months apart — in the Houston Open.

Tony Finau ties career-best round

Scottie Scheffler saw his streak of 28 rounds under par end with a 22-inch miss on his final hole. The three-putt double bogey from 6 feet gave him an even-par 70, though he was only four behind in his bid for a third straight PGA Tour victory.

Finau spent time after his opening round to work on his putting with coach Boyd Summerhays, and it paid off in a big way. He holed three putts from about 25 feet or longer, and he chipped in from 40 feet for eagle on the par-5 eighth.

Finau narrowly missed a 15-footer on his last hole at the par-3 ninth, knowing it would have been his lowest round on the PGA Tour. He was plenty satisfied with a 62, the sixth time he has posted that score, most recently in the last Houston Open.

“I hit some nice shots, but it was mostly just draining some putts from long distance,” Finau said. “I chipped in for eagle on 8. Next thing you know I’m like, ‘Wow, 8 under.’ So it’s strange how this game works, but you’re never thinking ahead too much.”

Finau was at 9-under 131.

Alejandro Tosti, a PGA Tour rookie from Argentina, had a 67 and was two shots behind. Thomas Detry of Belgium shot 64 and was three behind.

Finau won the Houston Open in November 2022 and had to wait 16 months to defend because of the tournament’s move to the spring ahead of the Masters. It was Bermuda grass in the fall, and now lush and overseeded with limited rough.

Finau did most of his damage with the putter. He opened with a 69 on Thursday and then headed straight to the practice green with Summerhays.

“He noticed a little setup change that he mentioned that might help,” Finau said. “I’d say it definitely helped today.”

Scheffler faced the strong wind in the afternoon and was holding his own, challenging Finau for the lead. But on the par-5 16th, he hit 7-iron off the bank and into the water, forcing him to scramble for par. He hit a superb approach to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th, putting him 2 under for his round and two behind Finau.

And then it all changed. Scheffler found a bunker, blasted out and nearly holed it. His par putt from 6 feet spun around the cup, and he went to tap in from 22 inches only for it to dive offline and catch the right lip.

“Frustrating lapse in judgment there,” Scheffler said. “Felt like I hit a good putt on the first one, maybe went just barely through the break so obviously it was a bit frustrating hitting a good putt and it not going in. Second one, I guess just hit a little fast and didn’t see a spike mark.”

Tom Hoge bounced back from a sluggish start with a 66 and was in the group at 3-under 137. Hoge needs to finish alone in fifth to have a mathematical chance to getting into the top 50 in the world ranking after this week. That would earn him a trip to the Masters.

U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark has been dealing with a back issue from working out earlier in the week. He finished with a bogey for the second straight round, having to settle for a 68 that left him seven shots behind Finau.

They played in the same group, and Clark got a good view of a great round.

“We were joking because about four or five times today I had to move his coin (on the green),” Clark said. ”I hit the putt, I missed and then he made. I kept tell him I was dishing him assists. With that said, he hit it amazing and then he made a lot of putts. So it was fun to watch.”

Wilson Furr, who shared the 18-hole lead with Taylor Moore, did not make a birdie in his round of 75 and fell eight shots behind Finau.

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Doug Ferguson, AP

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Tony Finau Matches Career Low, Sets Target At Houston Open