PEBBLE BEACH — After contending in several majors over the last couple of years when he’s had four top-10 finishes, Utah’s Tony Finau has work to do just to make the cut for the weekend at the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Finau had a couple of disappointing late bogeys, which dropped him to a tie for 98th place after an opening-round 74. He’ll need an under-par round in Friday’s second round to stay around for Saturday and Sunday’s round.
The 29-year-old Lehi resident was fifth in last year’s U.S. Open and finished in the top 10 in each of the last two Masters as well as last year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
He didn’t feel too bad about his game Thursday afternoon, saying “I hit it good enough to score ... but I didn’t hit it close enough.” But with a record 39 scores under par in the first round at Pebble Beach, he needs to score much lower on Friday.
After not making a birdie on his first 13 holes, while making three bogeys, Finau made back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15, sinking putts of 15 and 5 feet. However, at 16, he three putted, running a 40-foot putt 5 feet past and missing it coming back. Then at the par-5 18th, he tried to hit a slice about the big tree in the fairway and ended up in the water and had to settle for bogey.
“I kind of let off the gas pedal,” Finau said. “Overall I feel I’m one good round from being in the thick of it. After tomorrow, I’ll know where everybody’s at. I still have to put together a good round tomorrow."
Finau was right in the thick of the largest crowds of the day at Pebble, with two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka right in front of him and Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose right behind him.
“I’d rather be playing with them than around them,” said Finau, who played in the final group at the Masters with Woods. “It kind of gives you a different feel when they’re around you and (the fans) are not paying attention to you. I’d much rather be playing with them.”
For Friday’s second round, Finau will play with Ian Poulter and Jimmy Walker again and the group will tee off at 9:13 a.m. MT.
“‘I’m hitting it nicely and just have to score the ball better,” he said. “It’s just a couple of little things — if I can clean that up tomorrow we’ll be fine.”