Standing on the first tee box at Chambers Bay yesterday was special for Tony Finau. He was about to hit his first drive in a major championship.
Finau is currently tied for fifth after round two of the U.S. Open. Today, he fired two-under with five birdies and three bogeys, bringing him to three-under for the tournament.
“I’m excited to be here, for sure,” said Finau. “Being my first major, the best way I can explain my emotion is just excitement. I’m really excited to be out here and I think it’s shown so far.”
You probably aren’t familiar with Finau. The 25-year-old is relatively new to the PGA Tour. He earned his card in 2014 after finishing eighth on the Web.com Tour’s 2014 money list and 12th in the Web.Com Tour Finals.
Other stints included mini-tours such as the Gateway, Hooters and National Pro Tour, as well as PGA Tour Canada and appearing on the Golf Channel’s “Big Break Disney,” where he finished runner-up.
“It’s been quite the journey to get to this point,” said Finau. “But it’s what I’ve worked so hard for. I feel like, to get to this point in my career, to have these opportunities playing in these big events. It feels really good.”
Despite his rookie status, the 6-foot 4-inch pro is quickly solidifying himself as one of the PGA Tour’s rising stars. This year he has had four top-10 finishes, and 10 top-25 finishes, including a tie for 10th at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship and eighth at The Memorial Tournament two weeks ago.
“I know I’ve been playing well, I’ve had some nice finishes on Tour, which is good leading up into a major,” said Finau. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself there, but just enjoy the week. It’s my first major, so if I just have fun and play free, then I’ll be fine.”
Finau credits Daniel Summerhays, the only other Utahn in the U.S. Open field, for helping him feel comfortable at Chambers.
“Being out here as a rookie, I’ve leaned on [Summerhays] for some experience and just the Tour life in general,” said Finau. “Our relationship is growing. And it’s just nice to see us both play well this week so far.”
Summerhays led the tournament for part of the second day before doubling the sixth hole. He now shares the fifth spot with Finau, Ben Martin, Joost Luiten and Henrik Stenson at three-under-par.
“I looked over and saw he was leading the tournament,” said Finau. “That was cool to see. He’s a great player and I wish him the best this week.”
Summerhays shares similar sentiments about Finau. “Hopefully we’ll get paired together tomorrow,” said Summerhays. He hits it about 50 yards further than me [and] is way ahead of the curve as far as maturity goes. I’m really proud of him and all he’s accomplishing.”
So what is Finau’s plan of attack for the next two days?
“Tee it high and hit it far.”
Far meaning an average of 307 yards. Move over McIlroy and Fowler, this guy is a beast.