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Utah’s Tony Finau plays part in U.S. golf win at Presidents Cup in Australia

Finau didn’t win a match all week, but he played an integral part in the United States’ victory

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U.S. team player Tony Finau, center bottom, uses a phone to photograph teammates and the trophy after winning the President’s Cup golf tournament at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. The U.S. team won the tournament 16-14.

Andy Brownbill, Associated Press

Tony Finau didn’t win a match all week, but he played an integral part in the United States’ 16-14 victory over the Internationals in the biennial Presidents Cup matches in Australia over the weekend.

The Utah native ended up winning 1 ½ points for the U.S., which the team needed to eke out a victory at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Finau, who grew up in Salt Lake and lives in Lehi, lost his first match of the week when he was teamed with Bryson DeChambeau. He sat out the second day of foursome matches but came back to play both fourball and foursome matches on Saturday with Matt Kuchar and the pair earned a full point for the U.S. by tying their two matches.

”We were kind of against the odds, but I couldn’t give up on my teammates and my captains and I know everybody on this team felt the same way” — Tony Finau

Then for Sunday’s singles matches, Finau had one of the hardest draws against Hideki Matsuyama in the second match of the day. Matsuyama is ranked No. 21 in the world and was the third highest-ranked player on the International side.

Matsuyama took an early 4-up lead through 10 holes, but Finau came back to win four straight holes, 11 through 14 with birdies on three of the holes, from eight feet on No. 11, 20 feet on No. 13 and 10 feet on No. 14.

That brought the match back to even and Matsuyama won 16, before Finau won 17 with a par and the two tied the final hole.

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International team player Hideki Matsuyama of Japan watches his tee shot on the 12th while playing U.S. team player Tony Finau, left, in their singles match during the President’s Cup golf tournament at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019.

Andy Brownbill, AP

That was a big half-point for the Americans, and it appeared to be crucial when the U.S. led 15-13 with two tight matches left on the course, but the U.S. tied both matches for the final margin.

After the win, Finau could be seen on the television broadcast, hugging captain Tiger Woods and lifting him up in the air. 

”We were kind of against the odds, but I couldn’t give up on my teammates and my captains and I know everybody on this team felt the same way,” Finau said afterward. “But we are very inspired to play for Tiger and with Tiger, and it’s so satisfying to win this cup because of that. I think each of us, we just believe in each other because we know we could do what we did today, and we really believed that we could win the cup.”

This was the second year in a row Finau represented the U.S. in an international competition, as last year he was a member of the Ryder Cup team and won two matches.