Tony Finau just may be the perfect Ryder Cup partner.
The Ryder Cup is an event that pits two-man teams from the United States against like teams from Europe in every event except singles match play.
The chemistry of the two partnered players is paramount to success. In this week’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, look for U.S. captain Steve Stricker to pen in Finau wherever his personality fits best. Like, anywhere.
He’s a peacemaker.
He doesn’t pout.
He doesn’t seek out the limelight and draw attention to himself through emotions.
He’s calm, collected, friendly, as easygoing as a destroyer on still waters.
He doesn’t rock the boat.
He’s the “Mormon” guy, the designated driver. A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he is the first PGA Tour player of Tongan and Samoan descent. Tony and his wife Alayna have five children.
He has innate friendliness in his DNA.
This is what America’s Ryder Cup team needs — a guy who can hit it as far as anybody and can get on a hot streak and simply overpower an opponent like he did in 2018 at Le Golf National in Paris against Tommy Fleetwood — a 6 and 4 victory — part of his two points earned of the U.S.’s 10 ½ points.
This year’s Ryder Cup will be stateside. It’s been three years since the Europeans defeated the U.S. team in Paris with a year delay in the action due to COVID-19.
Finau became a captain’s pick along with Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler.
It will be a dogfight and is easily one of the most beloved golf events because of the “team” feeling that is created. The Ryder Cup gets emotional, it is intense and it involves the best players on the planet.
The competition starts Friday and will be televised on NBC, The Golf Channel and live on Peacock.
In Paris, Finau earned more points than other captain picks — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.
And what about DeChambeau?
The drama between him and Brooks Koepka has fed the golf world some soap opera lines for the better part of this past year.
Stricker will likely pair Koepka with Finau again. The two paired up for a fourball opening-day victory at the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Or put him with DeChambeau.
Partner him with anyone. He simply gets along.
Mark Whetzel, PGA Director of Golf at Conestoga Golf Club in Mesquite, Nevada, is a board member of the Tony Finau Foundation. He’s watched Finau grow as a player and man since his teenage years.
Whetzel knows the value of what Finau brings to a volatile U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“Tony is the ultimate gentleman. Even though he’s a fierce competitor, he values relationships and building continuity with all,” said Whetzel.
His easygoing nature has always been a hallmark of his personality. He’s always making sure everyone is represented and that they are part of the overall team effort. Tony is always quick to recognize “His Team” (family, coaches, foundation, his support system) with his success rather than himself.”
How valuable is that?
Ben Coley, writing in “Sporting Life,” had this line about Stricker’s job of possibly pairing DeChambeau with Finau:
“Steve Stricker doesn’t appear to be the type to ostracize him (DeChambeau), and he may not even be the type to ask Tony Finau to expand his already vast child care responsibilities.”
Whetzel puts it in perspective, as a Finau aficionado who understands the symbolism of what the Salt Lake City native and West High graduate brings to the world stage.
“We as a country, both as a nation and as a Ryder Cup team, need more of “the Tony” demeanor that includes love, patience and respect toward ALL of our neighbors regardless of our differences.
“His calming influence and love is needed and will help solidify this year’s Ryder Cup team.”