Tony Finau’s first full season on the PGA Tour was in 2015 when he burst onto the scene with 16 top 25 finishes in 31 starts, emerging as one of the Tour’s longest players off the tee. The 6’4 Finau is part of the new wave of professional golfer who’s built like the kind of athlete you’d expect to see playing football, basketball, or baseball, but the 28-year-old has learned it takes more than strength to find consistent success on Tour.
For his first three seasons on Tour, Finau was a below-average putter, finishing each year with negative strokes gained putting, despite being one of the best off the tee. The old adage in golf is “drive for show, putt for dough,” and while that’s not always true — Finau racked up north of $6.5 million over those three years — the majority of your strokes in a round come from the flat stick, and becoming a better putter is often the key for players to unlock their true potential on the course.
In 2018, Finau isn’t lighting the world on fire with his putter, at .033 strokes gained putting, but he has seen improvement, and it’s leading him to his most successful season of his career. In 18 events, he has 11 top 25s (15 made cuts), five top 10s, including a T10 at the Masters, and a pair of second place finishes. Those results and the improvement with the putter have Finau as a dark horse (60-1 odds) entering Thursday’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in New York.
Last week, Finau spoke with Uproxx Sports on behalf of American Express about how his turnaround on the greens was fueled by a grip change with his putter during the playoffs last year, his Masters experience after famously injuring his ankle after an ace in the Par 3, and where his game is entering the U.S. Open.