When Utah’s Tony Finau is making his putts, he’s one of the top players on the PGA Tour.
Saturday afternoon at the RBC Canadian Open golf tournament, the former Salt Lake City resident was really, really making his putts.
As a result, Finau is tied with Rory McIlroy for the tournament lead at 11-under at St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto heading into Sunday’s final round.
Finau, 32, tied his career low round with a 62 on Saturday and moved 15 spots up the leaderboard on the course that fellow Utah resident Mike Weir — a Canadian who did not make the cut — grew up playing.
“After (shooting a 1-over-par 71) yesterday, I had a little sour taste in my mouth. I played really nicely and I didn’t finish the way I wanted to. A couple bogeys coming in when I was right there.” — Utah’s Tony Finau.
“After (shooting a 1-over-par 71) yesterday, I had a little sour taste in my mouth,” Finau told CBS Sports. “I played really nicely and I didn’t finish the way I wanted to. A couple bogeys coming in when I was right there.”
Finau, who shot a 29 on the par-34 front nine Saturday for his career low nine-hole score, said the finish Friday “lit a fire in my belly a little bit” and he came out firing on Saturday.
“I got after it early and often, and I was able to put together a good round,” he said.
Finau and McIlroy have known each other for a long time because McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, played junior golf in Utah in the summer of 2000, staying with the Doug Pinckney family in Orem.
McIlroy won the last Canadian Open, played in 2019. The last two events were canceled due to the pandemic.
Finau’s 8-under 62 tied for the low round on tour this season. He finished the magnificent round in style, dunking a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, and McIlroy missed a short birdie putt on 18 that would have given him the third-round lead.
Finau hit 8 of 13 fairways and 12 of 18 greens. His putting was splendid — a surprising turn of events considering he is ranked as one of the worst putters on tour this season (he was 168th in strokes gained putting entering the Canadian Open).
He toured St. George’s GCC in 24 putts, his fewest putts in a round this year, and he made six straight one-putts on holes 5-10 Saturday.
A stretch from holes 8-11 where he made a birdie, an eagle and then two more birdies zoomed him up the leaderboard.
“It has been trial and error with me with my putter. It is the part of my game that I have worked extremely hard on over the last couple of years. I think it is starting to pay dividends,” Finau said.
“I don’t know that I can pinpoint one certain thing that I am working on, but just more of trial and error, and I am seeing the ball go in, and I saw it go in pretty often today, which was nice.”
Finau’s only bogey came on the par-4 12th after his second shot found a rear greenside bunker. He missed a 21-footer for par.
Finau has had an up and down season in 2021-22, and hasn’t won since winning The Northern Trust tournament in the FedExCup Playoffs last August.
He will be trying to win his third PGA Tour event Sunday.
Next week, Finau will play in the U.S. Open near Boston, having tied for 35th in the Masters in April and 30th in the PGA Championship in May.
He is currently 63rd in the FedExCup standings and is projected to jump near the top 20 if he can win Sunday.