From the very beginning of the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic, any thought of a hangover performance from Tony Finau was put to bed. Winning last week’s 3M Open in convincing fashion, the American was at it again at Detroit Golf Club as he signed for rounds of 64-66-65-67 en route to his fourth victory on the PGA Tour and his third in less than a year.
Despite becoming the first player since Brendon Todd in 2019 to win in back-to-back weeks during the regular season, the two victories could not have been more different. The beneficiary of a Scott Piercy collapse at TPC Twin Cities, Finau’s back-nine charge coupled with some good fortune was enough to push him into the winner’s circle in Minnesota at 26 under par.
There was nothing lucky about his record-setting performance in Detroit. Every aspect of his game was firing on all cylinders and it wasn’t until the 11th hole on Sunday that the Presidents Cup hopeful carded his first bogey of the week. Going 64 holes without dropping a shot, Finau’s steady hand suffocated the field as any misstep from his competitors was magnified by ten.
With the chasing pack consisting of the likes of Patrick Cantlay and Cameron Young to begin the final round, it is conceivable to suggest an earlier version of Finau would have felt the heat. Yet as we saw with Xander Schauffele earlier this summer, it is amazing how just a couple weeks can change our perception of a player.
Many have been waiting for Finau to discover his full potential and this week may have been just that as he reached 26 under. When he has it going on the greens, he can make the game look as easy and stress free as anyone on Tour.
In this day and age, youth is the name of the game. Each season a fresh new face hops onto the scene and is without any hint of nerves on golf’s biggest stage. There’s Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Will Zalatoris and Cameron Young to name just some and inherently this makes the window for those on the wrong side of 30 that much shorter.
While his victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic marks the end of his 2021-22 regular season, with it comes the beginning of Finau’s next chapter of his career. A career as a winner. A playoff run similar to Cantlay from last year was written about last week but why stop there. His two victories came in two of the weaker fields of 2022 but given his ability to rise to the occasion in major championships, should anyone be surprised if Finau is able to roll this momentum into 2023 and seriously threaten for a certain green jacket come April. Grade: A+
Here is the breakdown of the rest of the leaderboard for the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic
T2. Taylor Pendrith (-21): Unfortunately for the 31-year-old rookie, the nerves were present early and often on Sunday. Never looking comfortable in the final round, Pendrith turned in even par as he was unable to convert birdie opportunities on either of the par 5s. Trailing Finau by two strokes, the driver continued to betray the Canadian as he fought a two-way miss. In what was only his third start back since returning from a rib injury, Pendrith impressed and notched his fourth consecutive top-15 finish dating back to the Players Championship. He has made mincemeat of these short venues in his rookie campaign and should always be considered at those venues measuring around 7,200 yards moving forward. Grade: A
T2. Patrick Cantlay (-21): One of the bigger surprises of this season is the fact that Cantlay remains without a solo victory. He began the final round just a little too far behind Pendrith and Finau as he was sluggish out of the gates Thursday with a 2-under 70. Still, his performance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic marked yet another close call as the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year now has 10 top-10 finishes – two of which were playoff losses – in only 16 starts. He heads into the FedEx Cup Playoffs well positioned to defend his crown, but will need to recreate last year’s postseason magic in order to capture the largest payday of the year at the Tour Championship. Grade: A-
T2. Cameron Young (-21): The likely PGA Tour Rookie of the Year found himself in a familiar position on Sunday. Trailing the two co-leaders by four strokes, Young was unable to match his final round from The Open and instead stalled for the majority of his round and ultimately signed for a 4-under 68. While he was unable to threaten to lead, he once again played himself onto the first page of the leaderboard as he has done with impressive regularity throughout his rookie season. In total, he now has seven podium finishes and conventional wisdom suggests the breakthrough victory is right around the corner. Grade: A-
T20. Will Zalatoris (-13): Another week goes by in which Zalatoris goes without his first victory on the PGA Tour. After signing for rounds of 70-71 and making the cut on the number, the Wake Forest product found his game over the weekend and climbed his way inside the top 20 courtesy of rounds of 69-65. As it stands, Zalatoris is scheduled to play in the Wyndham Championship and perhaps a return to the state of North Carolina will push him into the winner’s circle. He will need to improve on and around the green as he ranked outside the top 50 in both short-game metrics and thus squandered a great ball-striking display. Grade: B
Rick Gehman is joined by Greg DuCharme and Mark Immelman recap Tony Finau’s victory at the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism