Tony Finau chasing dream win at St Andrews

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Tony Finau chasing dream win at St Andrews

Euro Tour

Tony Finau chasing dream win at St Andrews

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Tony Finau is in contention for his first overseas victory at the place where the game began. The Salt Lake City native is just three shots off the lead heading into the final round of the $5 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Finau sits in a share of fourth place on 17 under par with Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren after returning a second straight 66. England’s Matthew Southgate and Victor Perez of France hold the joint lead on 20 under. Paul Waring claims third place on 18 under.

Finau, whose only PGA Tour win came in the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, compiled his third-round 66 over the Old Course.

“I was happy with the way I played,” Finau said. “Missed a short one on 17, but outside of that I played really nicely.

“It was tough. That front nine, every hole was into the wind. It was quite cool this morning when we teed off, so a lot of those holes played a lot harder than they normally do with the wind. I was happy to get around the front nine in a couple under and I was able to score on the back nine.”

The world’s 14th best player returns to the Old Course for the final round with the rest of the field, after playing Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course. He’s looking forward to contending for his first professional win at golf’s birthplace.

“It’s very cool to be at the Home of Golf,” Finau said. “The Old Course, there’s nothing like it. So, to be able to tee it up tomorrow and play and have a chance to win a golf tournament here is going to be something special.”

Southgate and Perez are both chasing their first European Tour victories. Southgate got to the top of the leaderboard courtesy of a 7-under 65 at St Andrews, while Perez went one better with a 64, 8 under, at Kingsbarns. The Frenchman almost has home course advantage since he lives with his partner in nearby Dundee. The 27-year-old is a European Challenge Tour graduate, finishing third on that circuit last season. He’s currently 76th on the Race to Dubai.

Southgate is making his 140th European Tour appearance. The nearest he’s come to a European Tour W is second place in the 2017 Irish Open. The 30-year-old Englishman went through hell in 2015 when he underwent surgery for testicular cancer. He rebounded from that ordeal to come through all three stages of the European Tour Qualifying School to earn his card for the 2016 season. He’s hung on to full tour status ever since.

“I’m hitting the ball fantastic the first three days, so there’s no reason why I can’t shoot another good score,” Southgate said.

“Someone is going to post a good number, so it’s going to take a good score to get the win. I’m so passionate about winning tournaments and being here at the Home of Golf. Tomorrow is going to be a difficult one to just keep myself in check and keep producing what I have done the first three days.”

Southgate has a slight advantage over the other contenders: he’s already triumphed at St Andrews. He won the 2010 St Andrews Links Trophy, one of the most prestigious events in European amateur golf.

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