Tony Finau tried not to look at the opening two rounds of the PGA Championship as a Ryder Cup audition as he played alongside U.S. captain Jim Furyk.
He sure didn’t damage his chances.
Not by matching a PGA Championship record with 10 birdies in the second round.
Not by bouncing back from a 74 to make the cut on the number.
“He was just shaking his head,” Finau said after finishing the rain-delayed round Saturday morning with a 4-under 66, a round that featured just four pars. “For sure, it was the craziest round I think he’s ever seen. So the good news is 10 birdies in a major is pretty good.”
Finau began this wild ride Friday afternoon with five straight birdies, four of them from between 20 and 25 feet, the shortest one at 12 feet. And then his round was derailed — but only temporarily — when he came up a foot short of the green on the par-3 sixth hole, went into the water and made triple bogey.
That’s what impressed Furyk the most — not so much the five birdies, but Finau’s response to the triple bogey.
He birdied the next two holes.
“So in eight holes, he had seven birdies,” Furyk said. “I was giving him crap because he let us down on the back nine with only three birdies. That’s the mark of good players. They fight.”
Finau was among five players who accompanied Furyk to France this summer for a scouting trip at Le Golf Nacional, the host course of the Sept. 28-30 Ryder Cup matches. Finau is No. 13 in the standings and this is the last week to earn one of the eight automatic spots. Furyk then has four captain’s picks to make on Sept. 4.
“He’s got a great head on his shoulders,” Furyk said. “He showed a lot of poise.”
Those birdies after his big blunder stood out to Finau, one of only 11 players to make the cut in all four majors this year. With a front pin on the seventh hole, he went some 25 feet beyond the flag and holed the putt, and then got up-and-down from a bunker on par-5 eighth.
Even his first par was an adventure — Finau had to make a 12-footer.
Best of all was making the cut on the number at even-par 140, the lowest score to make a cut in the 60 years of stroke play at the PGA Championship.
“Honestly, I haven’t hit it great, up to my standards, these first couple days,” Finau said. “So I’ll be looking to clean that up. And if the putter feels good and stays hot on the weekend, just try and make some kind of a run. Major championship golf is funny. You never know what can happen on the weekend.”
He never imagined what it would take for him just to get to the weekend. Furyk, who also made the cut, will be paired with him again.