Tony Finau makes Ryder Cup statement with PGA-record 10 birdies

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Finau makes Ryder Cup statement with PGA-record 10 birdies

Professional

Tony Finau makes Ryder Cup statement with PGA-record 10 birdies

ST. LOUIS – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk told Tony Finau it was one of the craziest rounds of golf he’d ever seen. Then again, Furyk would love those 10 birdies from Finau next month in Paris.

After struggling and posting a 4-over 74 in Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Championship, Finau bounced back in an exciting way in Round 2 at Bellerive Country Club. He didn’t record a par until his 10th hole, birdieing his first five holes, making a triple bogey at No. 6 and notching two more birdies before a bogey to cap his front nine.

“It was an emotional roller coaster,” said Finau, who ended up matching Gary Player’s PGA Championship record of 10 birdies in a round (Player set the record at Shoal Creek in 1984), shooting 4-under 66 and making the cut.

Oh, and he did it all in front of Captain Furyk.

Finau, 28, entered this week at Bellerive sitting 13th in Ryder Cup points. If Furyk was selecting his captain’s picks last Monday, many would’ve tabbed Finau as one of those picks. The long-hitting Finau has had a breakout season in the big events, sharing second at Riviera, tying for 10th at the WGC-Bridgestone and finishing in the top 10 in each of the year’s first three majors, including the Masters, where he tied for 10th after dislocating an ankle during the Par 3 Contest.

But Furyk stressed Wednesday that he wants guys in good form when it’s time to make his picks. He’ll select three after the Dell Technologies Championship and his fourth after the BMW Championship.

Finau said he felt a little pressure as he teed it up alongside Furyk and another potential Ryder Cup rookie, Xander Schauffele, in the first two rounds of the PGA. After a disappointing Thursday, Finau knew he had to fight. Five straight birdies was quite the opening set of punches.

“It was kind of a shocker with how good everything was going for the first five holes, it was like I almost felt like I couldn’t do anything wrong,” Finau said.

He did sprinkle in the triple, which came after he missed dry land by a foot at the par-3 sixth, and three bogeys, including one at the par-4 18th. And his iron play has been uncharacteristically poor, as he ranks 80th in strokes gained approach-the-green after 36 holes.

But his flatstick has been surprisingly stellar. He made 163 feet of putts in Round 2 alone and moved to third in strokes gained putting through two rounds.

“If the putter feels good and stays hot on the weekend, just try and make some kind of a run,” Finau said.

Furyk said he likes what rookies bring to the table in team events. And right now, the U.S. team has just one in position to make the team automatically on Monday, and that’s Justin Thomas.

“You want guys that have that fire and have that passion and that you believe will thrive in that type of atmosphere,” Furyk said.

Said Finau: “The good news is 10 birdies in a major is pretty good.”

It’s even better in match play.

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