Tony Finau’s new season has picked up right where the last one left off.
Finau had a strong week at the WGC-HSBC Champions. He made a ton of birdies, climbed the leaderboard and banked a big check. But in the end, he still came up short in his quest for a second career PGA Tour win that is now more than two years in the making.
Granted, this close call will sting a little more than the others. Finau started the final round in China with a three-shot lead, and he still led Xander Schauffele by one standing on the 17th tee. But Schauffele birdied each of the next three holes, including the first of a sudden-death playoff, and Finau couldn’t keep up.
“Just walking off the green, haven’t had a lot of time but definitely feel like I let one get away,” Finau told reporters. “It was tough playing out there. [Xander] posted a number and made birdie on a playoff hole when it counted. Hats off to him. He played nicely and deserved to win.”
Full-field scores from the WGC-HSBC Champions
WGC-HSBC Champions: Articles, photos and videos
Finau shot a 1-under 71 in the final round, playing his final five holes in 2 under to keep pace with Schauffele. But he’d like a mulligan on his first shot of the playoff; he found a fairway bunker off the tee on the par-5 18th, which allowed Schauffele to win with a two-putt birdie.
Finau just capped a breakthrough season, one that included top-10 finishes at each of the first three majors and a his first Ryder Cup appearance. But through all that good golf, the long-hitting 29-year-old didn’t bag a trophy, settling for second place on three different occasions. His lone career PGA Tour win remains the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, played opposite the type of WGC event he nearly won this time around.
Sunday in Shanghai, Finau once again watched another player celebrate despite starting the final round as the man to beat.
“Seemed like we kind of separated ourselves with nine holes to play. Kind of a three-man tournament,” Finau said, referencing Justin Rose who finished third after a pair of late bogeys. “So definitely felt that way coming down the stretch, and it was cool to have a chance to win, a real chance to win. I’ll definitely learn from this and keep moving forward.”