Tony Finau made his first appearance in the PGA Championship during his rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2015.
He was in contention during the third round on Saturday, and while he didn’t end up winning – Finau finished T-10 – it was then that he knew he was major material.
“It was cool just to get a taste of it,” said Finau on Tuesday ahead of the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. “At that time I think I knew that someday I could win a major championship. It didn’t happen that week and hasn’t happened since, but it definitely gave me a fun taste of what major championship golf was like and that my game is fit for major championships.”
Finau’s major championship history started at the PGA, so it’s only fitting that his first major title come at the PGA of America’s premier event, especially given his current form. Finau has two wins and four top 10s this season, most recently at the Mexico Open just last month.
“I feel like a different player, more so than I’ve ever been. More confident in my game and my abilities than I’ve ever been and just who I am as a person and as a player,” Finau explained. “I think those things will serve me well as I continue down my path in my career.”
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Not only is he in good form, but Finau’s game is a perfect fit for the demanding Donald Ross test that is Oak Hill.
“You’ve got to hit it far and you’ve got to hit it straight,” said Finau, who ranks 17th in total driving, third in Strokes Gaines: Tee-to-Green and first in Strokes Gained: Approach this season. “This golf course is going to start from the tee box. If you’re not hitting enough fairways, you’re not going to be able to play this place very good.”
Players want to treat every week as if they’re the same, but we all know the majors are different. That said, the quest for a first major win doesn’t change Finau’s approach.
“I don’t think the recipe changes too much for me with the type of golf I’ve been playing lately,” he explained. “I’ve won four times in the last calendar — if we kind of go back, the last calendar year, so it just tells me that my game is better than it’s ever been, and confidence I think is as high as it’s ever been leading up into major season.”
“That’s the exciting part for me, and I look forward to this week.”