Utah’s Tony Finau kept alive his reputation for being an outstanding Ryder Cup player Friday.
After being held out of the morning’s foursome (alternate shot) matches, Finau teamed with Harris English to win an afternoon four-ball (best ball) match against Europe’s Rory McIlroy — who spent some time in Utah as a youngster living with Finau and his family — and Shane Lowry, who are both from Ireland.
Finau and English won 4 & 3, with Finau reeling off four birdies in six holes in the middle of the match to give the Americans the lead and then finishing with six birdies in another strong showing at the team event pitting the best players in the United States against the best players in Europe.
“I got a lot of pride to play for my country, play for these guys,” Finau said. “I love pressure. You have to in Ryder Cup situations. You have to in these atmospheres, and we had a great time out there.”
Team USA leads Europe 6-2 in the 43rd Ryder Cup, which is being played at Whistling Straits Golf Club in Haven, Wisconsin.
Finau’s putter was on fire on Friday.
“We had a great time today,” English said. “Tony putted unbelievably. It is hard to putt out here with this wind gusting like it was. The Finau Fans were incredible today. It was awesome.”
The West High graduate made a 40-footer for birdie on hole No. 1 to halve that hole and almost chipped in on the par-3 third hole.
He birdied holes 6 and 9, the latter birdie giving his pairing a 2-up lead. Another birdie on the par-4 10th hole, his fourth birdie in six holes, put his team ahead by three holes.
“I had a great partner in Harry who picked me up whenever I was down, and I was able to carry him when he was down, so a lot of fun to be out here. That’s pretty much how I could sum it up,” Finau said.
The Americans looked to be in trouble on No. 11, but Finau rolled in a 20 footer for par, a par that halved the hole when Lowry’s much shorter putt circled the cup and then fell.
Finau’s putting streak continued on the 13th hole when he rolled in a 7-foot birdie putt to give his team a four-hole lead with five to play.
It was the first time McIlroy has lost two matches in one day since he began playing in the event in 2010.
With Finau one of four Americans sitting out in the morning, Team USA took a 3-1 lead as Brooks Koepka/Daniel Berger, Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson/Collin Morikawa won their matches.
Some believed captain Steve Stricker would pair Finau with Koepka in the opening matches, but the Wisconsin native went in a different direction. He almost certainly will play Finau in both matches Saturday.