Tony Finau made enough birdies to win the U.S. Open Sunday, but too many bogeys kept the Utah native from capturing a major championship.
Finau, who went into the final round tied for the lead, playing in the final group with Daniel Berger, shot a 2-over-par 72 to finish at 285 in fifth place, four strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka. It marked the best U.S. Open finish by a Utah native since Jay Don Blake tied for sixth at Pebble Beach in 1992 and followed Finau’s tie for 10th at the Masters in April.
The 28-year-old Lehi resident made five birdies at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, but also had five bogeys and finished on a sour note with a double-bogey on the final hole, which dropped him from a tie for third place. For the week, he led all golfers in the tournament in birdies with 17, but needed to avoid the over-par scores that included four double bogeys and 14 bogeys.
After getting off to another slow start as he had the previous day before rallying, Finau made three straight bogeys out of the gates at holes 2, 3 and 4. Then he made birdies at three of the next five holes, while also making a bogey at No. 7. So he made the turn at 1-over on the day with just two pars on the front nine.
At the par-3 11th, Finau rolled in a 27-foot birdie putt to get within two of the lead, but fell back at the next hole when he three-putted for a bogey. After his 25-foot putt went past the hole, he missed a 4-foot putt coming back.
But he rebounded at the next hole with a marvelous approach shot that ended up 18 inches from the hole for a tap-in birdie, again putting him within two shots of the lead. At No. 15, he had a chance to get to 2-over, but his 10-footer slid past the hole on the left side.
Finau still had a chance to tie Koepka with a couple of more birdies, but missed long putts at 16 and 17 before getting into trouble at No. 18 with an errant tee shot.
Finau was in 45th place after two rounds, but climbed to the top of the leaderboard with 4-under-par 66 in Saturday’s third round as leading golfers struggled on a windy, dry afternoon.
Before the round, Finau said, “I’m going to go enjoy myself today — it’s the first time I’ve been in this situation before. I’m playing some good golf and I’ll try to stay in the moment and we’ll see what happens after 18 holes.”6 comments on this story
Finau will move on to play in the Open Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland, next month and is also scheduled to play at the PGA Championship in August, marking the first year he will have played in all four majors.
Finau was trying to become the first player with local ties to win a U.S. Open since ex-BYU golfer Johnny Miller won in 1973 at Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Finau was the first local player to play in the final group at a U.S. Open since Keith Clearwater, who was paired with Tom Watson in 1987 after shooting a third-round 64. However, the 27-year-old BYU grad struggled in the final round and shot 79 to finish in a tie for 31st place.