Tony Finau: A Look at His Struggle to Win on the PGA Tour

Tony Finau has long been a favorite of golf fans. Victory eluded him once again this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, notching another disappointing finish in his career.

Let’s get this out of the way to start. I really like Tony Finau, and think that he is a great golfer. The fact that he has so many top-five and top-ten finishes is outstanding, and a great measure of his talent.

He just can’t quite figure it out though, at least win it comes to winning tournaments. He has been on the PGA Tour since 2015 (I’m not counting the single appearances in 2007,08, and 2011), playing in a total of 148 tournaments. His lone win came back in 2016 at the Puerto Rico Open, which is a secondary event, the likes of which always have less-talented fields.

With as many top-five finishes as Tony Finau has, you would think he would’ve stumbled into another win somewhere along the line. Take a look at just how many top finishes he has had since joining the PGA Tour.

  • 7th place finishes: Seven
  • 6th place finishes: Three
  • 5th place finishes: Four
  • 4th place finishes: Four
  • 3rd place finishes: Four
  • 2nd place finishes: Seven

That is an incredible amount of top finishes. He has finished in the top seven in 30 of 149 events (adding his win to the list), good for just over a 20% rate. It’s even crazier when you realize he has finished in 2nd or 3rd 11 times.

For someone to be that close, that often, you would think that they would’ve had luck fall their way and end up with at least one more win.

One argument that can be made in favor of Tony Finau is that most of these top finishes were not blown opportunities. His three second-place finishes in 2017-18 all featured final rounds where he shot the same or better than the winner, and still lost by more than two strokes.

The WGC-HSBC in 2018-19 is a different story, in which he shot three strokes worse than Xander Schauffele, and lost in a playoff. A month or so later, he would shoot four strokes worse than Jon Rahm and lose the Hero World Challenge by those same four strokes.

A strong performance by Kevin Na won him the Charles Schwab that same year, as Finau would shoot a 68 and lose by four strokes.

The worst showing, arguably, is the most recent one.

Through 52 holes, Tony Finau was on fire. The third round is the one that stands out, as he looked like he was going to have a real shot at a 60, which would’ve been -11 for the day. He stuck his approach on the par-4 17th hole and had a short birdie putt. He would miss the four-footer, and make par. He also missed a six-footer for eagle on the 15th and would instead make birdie, leaving two strokes on the table.

They would end up making quite the difference.

Finau would go on to shoot a -1 70 in the final round, and after back-to-back birdies by Webb Simpson to finish his round, the two found themselves in a playoff.

Simpson would win on the first playoff hole, once again putting Tony Finau in the passenger’s seat, watching another win slip away.

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I really like Tony Finau. For his sake, I hope he figures it out. Until then, it’s safe to say avoid putting money on Finau to win a tournament.