Tony Finau cards 10 birdies for 9-under final round at BMW Championship

Tony Finau tosses his ball to his caddie on the 7th green during the final round of the BMW Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md.

Tony Finau tosses his ball to his caddie on the 7th green during the final round of the BMW Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. (Nick Wass, Associated Press)

ON TOUR — Tony Finau woke up Sunday morning out of contention to win his second consecutive weekend in the FedEx Cup playoffs, 32 spots behind leaders Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay.

That didn't mean he couldn't make things interesting, though.

Finau shot the low round of the day at 9-under-par 63 to finish tied for 12th at the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland.

While the result doesn't add another win to his stellar finish a week ago in Jersey City, Finau's standout final round keeps him in second place in the FedEx Cup standings ahead of next week's Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Cantlay forced a playoff late and survived five extra holes to edge DeChambeau on the verge of darkness at Caves Valley Golf Club. The duo finished four shots ahead of third-place Sungjae Im. Rory McIlroy and Eerik van Rooyen rounded out the top five.

Cantlay rolled in a perfectly weight putt from the edge of the 18th green to save birdie on the par-4, 476-yard final hole and force a playoff at 27-under. The 52-hole co-leaders each carded 6-under 66 in regulation in the final round, and become the first-ever golfers in PGA Tour history to both finish at 27-under in the same tournament.

Cantlay will take the No. 1 position in the FedEx Cup standings, and with it a 10-stroke lead to open the Tour Championship next weekend. Finau will be second and start at 8-under in the unique tournament scoring format, followed by DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith and Justin Thomas.

"My game feels really good," Cantlay said. "It has for a while now, since Memorial, and I'm finally starting to putt like me again. It's really nice."

Much like he did in the final round of his first win on the PGA Tour in five years, Finau smoked the front nine, playing at 5-under 31 as he cruised up the leaderboard with his third shot on the par-4, 465-yard ninth hole.

Finau hit 88.9% of greens in regulation, nearly 20 points above the field's weekly average. The long driver with an average tee shot of 315.1 yards, he also gained 4.469 strokes through his putting, nearly four times the week's average.

"I have the most confidence I've had with it (his putting), but yeah, I've done a lot of work on it," Finau said. "No secret that I've messed around with putting grips, but the combination of having this new Ping putter that I have and the hard work, it's starting to show some fruits, which is great."

The 31-year-old Rose Park native soared up the leaderboard with birdie after birdie, assaulting the field with the fury of a golfer ranked No. 9 in the Official World Golf rankings.

Finau had just one bogey on the day, finding trouble around a bunker on the par-4, 465-yard 10th hole. It barely set him back, though.

The tournament-low final round pairs with a 67 in Finau's first round to keep him in the top 15 of the tournament. The Lehi resident who also lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, shot even-par 72 Friday to survive the cut, and added a 2-under 70 Saturday that pushed him into a tie for 32nd ahead of Sunday's final round.

But Finau is finding his closer gene, as he showed a week ago — and again Sunday, even if it didn't lead to the same dramatic finish with a win on the first playoff hole.

"I knew I had a low 60s in me on this golf course," Finau said. "A lot of low scores have kind of been yielded all week, and haven't been able to score as well as I would have liked, so I really put some pressure on myself to score and have a good round, and the putter got hot, and it was a nice day to do that."

Finau was finishing his round by the time Cantlay was dueling DeChambeau atop the leaderboard, though the former UCLA golfer Cantlay took a two-shot lead with four birdies on his first five holes to begin to pull away.

By that point, the Northern Trust champion from Utah who entered the weekend with the No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup standings was wrapping up his final round with five birdies in the final six holes — just one stroke off his career-best round and his fifth final-round score of 65 or better in a FedEx Cup Playoff event since 2017. That's the most of any player on the PGA Tour, according to PGA stats and information.

The finish also ranks Finau seventh in the Ryder Cup standings after the weekend, when the top-six were automatically selected to the field. His narrow miss as an automatic qualifier, though, should send him through to the annual USA-vs-Europe competition for the second time in his career and first since 2018.

"I feel like I've done what I can when I — I've had my clubs do the talking, I think," he said. "There's so many of us that want to make the team. So many great American players, and I'm one of very few — I think very few guys that have a legit chance to make the team, which is a cool feeling. I've done all I could.

"I feel like last week and then this week to finish the way that I have, hopefully I've pleaded my case, and whether I make the team through points today or I don't, I'm playing some good golf, which is a good time of year to be doing that."

Finau had just finished playing in the Tour Championship when he got that call three years that still serves as one of the seminal moments of his career.

"That was one of the cooler rides I've ever had, flying from Atlanta back to Salt Lake City know that I'm now preparing for the Ryder Cup," he recalled. "It was a dream of mine, and to have accomplished that in '18 was special, and hopefully I get to do that a second time this year."

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