From the start of the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic, any thought of a hangover performance by Tony Finau was erased. The American, who won the 3M Open in convincing fashion last week, was back at it at Detroit Golf Club as he finished 64-66 on his way to his fourth win on the PGA Tour and his third in less than a year. 65-67 signed .
Despite becoming the first player since Brendon Todd in 2019 to win back-to-back weeks of the regular season, the two wins couldn’t have been more different. The beneficiary of a Scott Piercy meltdown at TPC Twin Cities, Finau’s back-nine attack coupled with some luck was enough to propel him into the Minnesota winners’ circle at 26-under par.
His record-breaking performance in Detroit was not lucky. Every aspect of his game ran wild and it wasn’t until the 11th hole on Sunday that the Presidents Cup hopeful carded his first bogey of the week. He went 64 holes without dropping a shot, and Finau’s steady hand choked the field as each misstep by his competitors was amplified tenfold.
With the likes of Patrick Cantlay and Cameron Young chasing at the start of the finals, it’s conceivable that an earlier version of Finau could have felt the heat. However, as we saw with Xander Schauffele earlier this summer, it’s amazing how just a few weeks can change our perception of a player.
Many have been waiting for Finau to discover his full potential and this week may have been just that as he reached 26 under. When dealing with the greens, he can make the game look as easy and stress free as anyone on tour.
In this day and age, youth is the name of the game. Each season a fresh new face enters the scene and stands without a trace of nervousness on golf’s biggest stage. There’s Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Will Zalatoris and Cameron Young to name a few and that makes the window that much shorter for those on the wrong side of 30.
While his victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic marks the end of his 2021-22 regular season, it begins Finau’s next chapter in his career. A career as a winner. A playoff run similar to Cantlay’s last year was written about last week, but why stop there. His two wins came in two of the weaker fields of 2022, but given his ability to hold his own at major championships, anyone should be surprised if Finau is able to carry that momentum into 2023 and seriously with one in April to threaten certain green jackets. Rating: A+
Here is the breakdown of the rest of the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic leaderboard
T2. Taylor Pendrith (-21): Unfortunately, the 31-year-old rookie was nervous early and often on Sunday. Pendrith never looked comfortable on the final loop and spun for even par as he failed to convert on any of the par 5 birdie opportunities. The driver was two strokes behind Finau and continued to give the Canadian away as he fought a miss. In just his third start since returning from a rib injury, Pendrith impressed to record his fourth consecutive top 15 finish dating back to the Players Championship. He minced those short venues in his rookie campaign and should always be considered in those roughly 7,200-yard venues. Class: A
T2. Patrick Cantley (-21): One of the bigger surprises of this season is the fact that Cantlay remains without a solo win. He started the final lap a little too far behind Pendrith and Finau as he sluggishly got out of the gates on Thursday at 2 under 70. Still, his performance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic marked another close decision as reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year now has 10 top-10 finishes — two of which were playoff losses — in just 16 starts. He goes into the FedEx Cup Playoffs well-positioned to defend his crown, but needs to recreate last year’s postseason magic to win the biggest payday of the year at the Tour Championship. Grade: A-
T2. Cameron Young (-21): The likely PGA Tour Rookie of the Year found himself in a familiar position on Sunday. Young, who was four shots behind the two co-leaders, was unable to match his final round of The Open and instead stood for the majority of his round, eventually signing for a 4-under-68 once again playing himself to the front of the leaderboard , as he did with impressive regularity in his rookie season. He now has seven podium finishes in total and conventional wisdom suggests that breakthrough victory is just around the corner. Grade: A-
T20. Will Zalatoris (-13): Another week goes by with Zatoris giving up his first win on the PGA Tour. After signing and reducing the number for rounds of 70-71, the Wake Forest product found its game over the weekend, climbing into the top 20 courtesy of rounds of 69-65. From the looks of it, Zalatoris will be on compete in the Wyndham Championship and perhaps a return to North Carolina State will propel him into the winners’ circle. He needs to improve on and around the green as he ranked outside the top 50 on both short game metrics and wasted great ball-stroke performance. Grade B