Following the best season of his career to date will not be an easy task for Tony Finau as the golfing calendar turns to 2023 and attention shifts towards the first PGA Tour event of the new year, the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
It took longer than many would have anticipated, but in 2022 the floodgates well and truly opened for the talented Tony Finau. The 33-year-old won three times in 2022, twice during the 21-22 PGA Tour season, and once already to kick off the 2022-23 season.
After waiting over five years to add a second trophy to his PGA cabinet, it took a little more than a year to add a third.
Following his long-anticipated breakthrough at the 2021 Northern Trust, Finau picked up win number three at last year’s 3M Open, number four the following week in Detroit at the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic, and number five in the Lone Star State at the Cadence Bank Houston Open in November.
One of golf’s most beloved stars went from two to five in the blink of an eye, so what comes next?
A breakthrough on the sport’s grandest stage, one of the four major championships, would be the next logical assumption for a player that possesses the talent that Tony Finau does.
Major expectations for Tony Finau in 2023
Identifying Tony Finau as one of a handful of potential first-time major winners in 2023 is certainly not a stretch. You can add his name alongside that of Will Zalatoris, Cameron Young, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, and others.
A quick glance at the oddsmakers’ favorites to win this year’s Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, or The Open Championship, and it would come of little surprise to see Finau’s name alongside a group of players at the top.
His career performance in majors even prior to having earned multiple wins on Tour is impressive.
Nine top 10s and four top 5s in twenty-four starts is certainly eye-catching and only further illustrates why all attention will turn towards his performance in these events now that he has at long last won multiple times on Tour.
Of course, winning on the sport’s grandest stage is no easy feat. Some of the best, both past and current, have not. Players such as Lee Westwood, Harry Cooper, Bernard Gallacher, Steve Stricker, and Luke Donald have all seen major glory elude them.
If a major win weren’t to come to fruition in 2023 would the year still be considered a success for Finau?
It should; winning one time over the course of the season is difficult enough on the PGA Tour, just ask Tony.
Tom Hoge had to wait seven seasons before earning his first PGA Tour win at last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and seemingly every season there are similar stories that emerge. Winning isn’t easy.
Sadly, barring something spectacular from Tony Finau in 2023, anything short of a first-time major breakthrough may be considered a disappointment by some. The five-time winner on Tour will have to carry the weight of those expectations this year; fair or not.
Finau set the bar high after his fantastic 2022, and regardless of the outcome, it will be exciting to see what he has planned for an encore in 2023.