Newburgh, Ind. – Tony Finau (pictured by Getty Images) needed only four swings to start heads turning Friday morning in the second round of the United Leasing Championship presented by PTI. The 24-year old rookie from Utah started with an eagle and an ace and was 4-under par after only two holes at Victoria National Golf Club.
“I got off to an unbelievable start,” said Finau, who rolled in a 12-foot eagle putt at No. 10 and then dunked a 6-iron from 178 yards on the next tee. His round had covered 719 yards and was only 19 minutes old. “I just rode the momentum from there.”
Finau added birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 16 and was 7-under par through only seven holes and vaulted to the top of the leaderboard en route to a course-record, 8-under 64 that put him alone in first place in the weather-delayed tournament.
Finau’s 9-under 135 total is two shots better than Brazil’s Alex Rocha (69), California rookie Mark Hubbard (68) and Ryan Armour (67) of Ohio.
Indiana native Chris Smith (68) is at 6-under and tied with Andres Echavarria (70) for fifth place, three back.
Finau’s career-best day started in a way few rounds ever have. He became only the third player in the Tour’s 25-year history to open with back-to-back eagles.
“Sometimes you get lucky. It was an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “You have to remind yourself you still have 16 holes to play and that was the hardest part.”
Finau wasn’t exactly jumping up and down after starting his scorecard ‘3-1’ because he never saw the ‘1’.
“We were hitting right into the sun. It was the craziest thing. None of us saw it,” said Finau of his 10th career ace. “I thought it felt really good and it looked like it started on line. We walked up to the green and saw only two balls. I was wondering where mine was and then I saw a pitch mark right by the cup.”
Finau did his best to remain focused the rest of the day and enjoy the ride, which turned into a bit of a rollercoaster with four bogeys.
“I played aggressively. I think that’s why I had the bogeys,” he said. “Whenever you see yourself on the leaderboard I feel like you should try to get ahead as much as possible while you’re playing well.”
Finau’s go-for-broke approach cost him several times on his second nine but he bounced back from each of his first three bogeys with birdies.
“You try to slow yourself down a bit and try not to look to far ahead and worry about a score,” he said. “I kept my mind away from what I might shoot and tried to hit the best shot that was at hand.”
Finau stumbled with a bogey at the par-5, 9th after his tee shot settled near the lip of a fairway bunker, forcing him to blast out sideways and remain 190 yards from the pin on the 558-yard hole, the second easiest on the course.
“I was definitely in the zone on my first nine,” said Finau, whose previous career low was a 6-under 65. “It was tough to finish with a bogey on the last hole but I’m in position for the weekend.”
SECOND ROUND NOTES:
* Friday weather: Partly cloudy. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Overnight low 69. Daytime high 88.
* Play was suspended at 6:40 p.m. due to threatening conditions with nine groups (25 players) still on the course. Play resumed at 7:33 p.m.
* A total of 74 players made the 36-hole cut which came at 1-over 145.
* Scott Gardiner (77) and Steve LeBrun (78) both withdrew prior to the start of the second round.
* Matt Hendrix withdrew during the second round weather delay.
* Finau’s 8-under 64 today featured two eagles, eight birdies and four bogeys. He hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and had 26 putts.
* Finau’s 64 was a tournament-record low score, bettering the mark of 65 which was first established by Omar Uresti in the opening round two years ago and matched five times. Finau’s mark was matched 30 minutes later by Scott Harrington, who had eight birdies and no bogeys for his round of 64. Harrington his 13 of 14 fairways, all 18 greens in regulation and had 28 putts. Harrington opened with a round of 76 and was T112. He is now T13 heading into Saturday’s play.
* Finau’s back-to-back eagles marked the 57th time in Web.com Tour history that a player has recorded consecutive eagles. The last to do it was Dominic Bozelli at the 2014 BMW Charity Pro-Am.
* Finau is only the third player in Tour history to begin a round with back-to-back eagles:
1992 Joey Rassett South Carolina Classic R1 shot 66 (-6)
2006 Steve Marino Price Cutter Charity Championship R3 shot 65 (-7)
2014 Tony Finau United Leasing Championship R2 shot 64 (-7)
* Finau is the fourth player in Tour history to have an ace as part of his back-to-back eagles:
2009 Matt Every Stonebrae Classic R2
2013 Hunter Haas Albertsons Boise Open R4
2014 Dominic Bozelli BMW Charity Pro-Am R4
2014 Tony Finau United Leasing Championship R2
* Chris DiMarco is the only player in Tour history to record consecutive eagles more than once – and they came at the same event, and on the same holes:
1993 Monterrey Open R1 Nos. 9, 10
1997 Monterrey Open R1 Nos. 9, 10
* Of the 56 different players who have recorded back-to-back eagles, only two have gone on to win the tournament:
2008 Colt Knost Price Cutter Charity Championship R4 Nos. 10, 11
2011 Miguel Carballo Children’s Hospital Classic R4 Nos. 14, 15
* Finau’s ace today at No. 11 is the 10th of his lifetime but only his second in a tournament. The first one came when he was playing in a junior tournament at the (old) Doral course in Miami (No. 15).
* Finaus’ ace was the first in the tournament’s three-year history.
* Finau’s 135 total is the best opening 36-hole score in tournament history. Alistair Presnell was at 8-under 136 in 2012.
* Finau is making his 18th career start and his 13th this season. He has now made 10 cuts in 13 starts, and nine in a row. He came into the week No. 37 on the money list. Finau made single starts in 2006 (am), 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
* Finau’s 64 today is his career-best to date. His previous low was a 6-under 65 in the second round of the 2011 Utah Championship.
* This is the first time in Finau’s Web.com Tour career he has held/shared a lead after any single round. The closest he’s ever been previously came at the Rex Hospital Open earlier this year when he was T6 after the first round.
* Finau’s career-best finish on Tour is a T4 at the 2014 Rex Hospital Open.
* Tony Finua’s second cousin, Duke basketball star Jabari Parker, was the No. 2 player selected in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday evening. Parker was chosen by the Milwaukee Bucks.
* First-round play resumed at 7:30 a.m. with 21 players needing to complete their opening rounds.
* Here is how the leaderboard looked after the first round was completed:
1. Sung Kang 66 (-6)
1. Roberto Diaz 66 (-6)
3. Ryan Blaum 67 (-5)
3. Zack Fischer 67 (-5)
5. Andres Echavarria 68 (-4)
5. Adam Hadwin 68 (-4)
5. Alex Rocha 68 (-4)
* Second-round play started at 6:40 a.m. as scheduled.
* There are a half dozen Web.com Tour pros with regional ties this week:
Chris Baker Seymour, IN 72-72—144 (E) T49
Derek Fathauer U. of Louisville 74-71—145 (+1) T62
Adam Hadwin U. of Louisville 68-71—139 (-5) T7
Justin Thomas Goshen, KY 70-71—141 (-3) T22
Steve Wheatcroft Indiana University 72-77—149 (+5) m/c
Chase Wright Indiana University 73-70—143 (-1) T36
* Zack Fischer (72-139/T7) was cruising along and was one shot off the lead when his round fell apart at the par-4, 17th hole. Fischer was 8-under for the tournament when his second shot found a greenside bunker.
“I’m still not sure what happened,” he said.
Fischer’s sand blast caught “more ball than sand” and sailed past the green, up a hill and into tall weeds where he was forced to take a penalty for an unplayable lie. He returned to the bunker and his next shot was nearly a duplicate of the first.
“I was just trying to hit a normal bunker shot,” he said.
Fischer chipped short of the green and then nearly chipped in for a seven, but settled for a quadruple-bogey 8.
“I’m still trying to process it,” he said.
Fischer’s tee shot at 18 found the fairway but negotiating the final 182 yards with a 7-iron took longer than normal.
“Those thoughts creep in your head. The demons are still there,” he admitted. “It probably took me two or three minutes to hit that shot. I couldn’t focus. I think I was still in shock.”
Fischer managed to get the ball on the green and then rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the toughest hole on the course and finish with an even-par 72. He is at 5-under 139 and T7.
* Albin Choi reeled off a tournament-record five consecutive birdies on holes 2-6. Choi posted a 4-under 68 and is at 2-under 140 through the first two rounds (T34).
* First-round co-leader Roberto Diaz posted a 3-over 75 Friday and dropped back to 3-under 141 (T22).
* Blayne Barber posted scores of 76-70—146 (+4) and missed the cut for the first time this year. Barber had made nine cuts in his previous 10 starts this year – he was disqualified at the Brasil Champions for signing an incorrect scorecard. Barber earned his first career win in early May at the South Georgia Classic and then finished T3 two weeks later at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. He entered the week No. 5 on the money list.
* There have been 11 different tournament winners on Tour this year and 10 of them were entered this week – only Alex Cejka did not start. Of the 10, only two will be around for the final 36 holes: Chile Classic champion Adam Hadwin (-5/T7) and Sebastian Cappelen (-4/T13), winner of last week’s Air Capital Classic. Those 2014 tournament champions missing the cut were Jon Curran, Carlos Ortiz, Kris Blanks, Andrew Putnam, Blayne Barber, Max Homa, Byron Smith and Steven Alker.
* Joel Dahmen, a two-time winner in just three starts on PGA TOUR Canada, posted scores of 74-73 and missed the cut. Dahmen, who leads that Tour’s Order of Merit after blitzing the field by five shots at last week’s Syncrude Boreal Open in Alberta, also received a sponsor exemption into this week’s event. Dahmen played college golf at the University of Washington. This is his second career start on the Web.com Tour – he missed the cut at the 2011 Albertsons Boise Open in his native state of Idaho.
* Julio Vegas, younger brother of PGA TOUR winner Jhonattan Vegas, made his Tour debut this week after gaining entry through the Monday qualifier. Vegas was a member of the Texas Longhorns’ 2012 NCAA Championship team and teammate of current PGA TOUR standout Jordan Spieth. Vegas stumbled out of the gate with three double bogeys in a four-hole stretch on his opening nine on Thursday. He posted scores of 85-79 and missed the cut.
NEXT WEEK: The Web.com Tour travels to Canada for the inaugural Nova Scotia Open. The tournament will be played at Ashburn Golf Club (June 30-July 6), which is just outside of Halifax.
1. Tony Finau 135 (-9)
2. Alex Rocha 137 (-7)
2. Mark Hubbard 137 (-7)
2. Ryan Armour 137 (-7)
5. Chris Smith 138 (-6)
5. Andres Echavarria 138 (-6)
Source: PGA Tour