Sobel: Tony Finau Winning the 2021 Zurich Classic Could Be Just What He Needs
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.
There are no asterisks for PGA TOUR victories. Win a tournament and the check cashes, whether you’re playing against an inferior field or get the better end of the weather draw or anything else.
We all know this and understand it, yet anytime Tony Finau is discussed in relation to his lone title, there’s an instant “yeah, but…” intrinsically linked within the conversation.
Finau has risen as high as ninth on the official world golf ranking despite owning just a single victory, one which occurred five years and one month ago at the Puerto Rico Open, an opposite-field event. Since then, he’s posted 10 runner-up finishes around the world and 43 top-10s, but he’s famously failed to claim another trophy.
Halfway through this week’s Zurich Classic, Finau is tied for the lead, but it’s a lead which could be prompting more “yeah but…” cries from the masses. This event is, of course, a two-man team tourney, and Finau is paired with fellow long hitter Cameron Champ, who ironically owns three dozen fewer top-10s than Finau and twice as many victories.
You can already feel it coming, really. If the duo hangs on for 36 more holes and triumphs over the field, Finau’s joy will be ripe for social media bravado, as some pick at the low-hanging fruit of this one not being an individual win.
Perhaps, though, there’s another way of looking at it. Perhaps this could be just what Finau needs to catch a little spark and start winning ‘em on his own.
Either way, he insists none of it – a potential win or the ensuing response – has been on his mind.
“I haven’t thought about that much this week,” he said after the pair posted a 4-under 68 in Friday’s alternate shot format. “I haven’t done much leaderboard watching. We knew we were playing well, and on 18 I happened to peek over, and wow, we were on top of the leaderboard. I think we’ll do what we’ve been doing the last couple days, which is enjoy each other’s company and not add any bonus pressure when it comes to teammate golf. We’ve done a good job of that, and we’ll continue that the next couple days.”
As much as Finau supporters might be rooting for this victory to help open the floodgates, it’s tough to back the new tournament favorites at a paltry +250 entering the weekend.
In this format – with one more best-ball round Saturday and another alternate shot round Sunday – we should expect plenty more leaderboard movement.
Instead, let’s try looking a little bit further down the board.
Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler were my favorite outright play before the week started and at two strokes back, +550 still doesn’t seem like a terrible number.
Childhood pals Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel are just one shot further back, but with an intriguing price of +1600.
Then there’s the teams of Brendon Todd/Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel/Sam Burns, each just five strokes off the pace, but +3300 and +4000, respectively.
There are plenty of options out there for bettors still seeking potential outrights.
I don’t recommend chasing the favorites, but that doesn’t mean you can’t root for them, either.
Maybe a Finau victory in this type of event is just what he needs to propel him to bigger successes and more titles. Either way, the check will still cash.