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Exclusive interview

How Tony Finau Keeps Momentum On A Run Of Good Form

The RSNG team

Back-to-back successes in the summer of 2022 saw Tony Finau raise aloft trophies at the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota, and a week later at the Detroit Golf Club for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The achievement was notable for the American given that, prior to the streak, the 33-year-old had won only two PGA Tour events in the space of five years as a professional.

Has Finau managed to harness the power of momentum? He tells RSNG.com how the first win allowed him to play “with absolute freedom” in the second game…

RSNG How frustrating was it for you to have gone so long without a victory?

TONY FINAU, GOLFING PRO ON A WINNING STREAK “I love golf, but I also love winning. The feeling that comes with winning a tournament is incredible, and obviously it makes everything feel worth it. All of that practice, the hard graft and work I put into my career.

“When you have setbacks in life or in your career, it’s normal to feel like things are against you and that perhaps you want to pack it all in. I’m sure everyone has felt like that at some point. But one thing I have never wanted to do is actually give up forever.

“That’s what I take most pride in, the fact that I have never stopped and just kept going right through the bad times and yeah, sometimes I wondered if I would get back to lifting trophies. It’s certainly strange how it works out, at times.”

RSNG It’s not like you’ve been missing cuts and in danger of losing your card on the PGA Tour, though?

TONY FINAU “That’s it. I mean, I’ve been playing well in events and I think the only cut I missed for a while was the US Open – which of course was a disappointment; but I feel that I have been in contention for quite a few, this year.

“I’ve been on the leaderboard in a handful of tournaments and maybe something just wasn’t there. Sometimes you can’t put your finger on what it is that’s failing to get you over the line. You evolve, you change, you adjust – it’s all small actions designed to offer minor improvement. That’s just how it goes.”

“It was strange when I bogeyed the 18th – I had to remind myself that I had actually won the event!”

RSNG With the eight rounds that you played in your two recent wins, your worst score was 68 – do you agree that’s astonishing?

TONY FINAU “Thanks, yeah. I think with it being so tight and the leaderboard bunching up a little down the back nine, I was able to play well enough to get some birdies on the card.

“When you’re playing well, you want to be able to continue that form for as long as you possibly can and while that’s not easy at all, you have to do what makes you feel comfortable.

“It was strange when I bogeyed the 18th at the 3M Open, the first of the two back-to-back that I won – it was almost like a bittersweet feeling. I had to remind myself that I had actually won the event [laughs]! The irony of winning again, on a bogey, I thought was pretty funny, but I’ll take it.

“I definitely believe my head was still full of the relief of winning when I got to Detroit for the Rocket [Mortgage Classic event], so make of that what you will.”

RSNG Do you believe momentum carried you through to that second win?

TONY FINAU “In my head, my preparation was the same, although I think it’s only natural that you perhaps ease off the gas when you have a victory. There is not the importance attached to the next tournament because, as a golfer, across a season, you have already achieved what you set out to do – win.

“I’ve obviously had time to think about how it is I won again straight away, and while you might say it’s momentum, it’s also perhaps just as much about the pressure being off, and playing with absolute freedom. It’s about entering almost a trance-like state where, for once, you are not berating yourself on the course or fretting over a loose shot. Even the stance you take on the tee is relaxed and almost carefree.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be in that place, and it was a real surprise when I saw how it was propelling my game forward in Detroit.

“I now want to take time away to perfect that mindset.”

RSNG Which players do you look at as the best in the game at the moment?

TONY FINAU “I think most players have the ability, the attitude, the determination and the will to win when they feel like they’re playing their best golf. But this season, we’ve seen a few new names winning events.

“You’ve got Scottie Scheffler who has taken the game by storm in 2022; Sam Burns has played some really good golf and had a great season; obviously Cameron Smith as well.

“But you know that any given week there could be any number of different players at the top of the leaderboard, such is the quality and ability of those in the modern game.”

“You’ve got to keep pushing on every shot and every round.”

RSNG Looking forward, you have top five finishes in all four majors – do you think there is a major win on the cards for you?

TONY FINAU “I suppose you never know, but what’s certain is most of the best players are going to show up and bring their A-game.

“I always do feel quite relaxed when I play in the majors, maybe because I have a good record over the years. I like the atmosphere and the crowds are always really good; and I have always been on the second level, where expectation is perhaps lower than with some of the other guys. The pressure is off.

“As for winning one, that’s obviously my hope and maybe it will happen at some point. I’ve just got to keep on playing well, and perhaps I have discovered a way of channeling momentum into future tournaments?”

RSNG When things aren’t going so well, what keeps you coming back?

TONY FINAU “I think I’ve just been blessed with a solid work ethic, self-belief and a sense of optimism. Sometimes perhaps this is too great, but I never go out thinking I’m not capable of winning, ever.

“You’ve got to keep pushing, on every shot, every round.”

WHAT NEXT? For The Open Champion Francesco Molinari, learning to use the ground was key to his career-defining win, as he tells RSNG.com in this exclusive interview…

Photos: Shutterstock/REX