Yes, Tony Finau got hot on Friday. His fuse, however, was lit a day earlier when a birdie putt on his last hole on Torrey Pines’ North Course slipped him into the weekend field.
“Sometimes making the cut on the number is almost new life,” Finau said after firing an 8-under 64 to vault him from tied for 54th all the way into third place after the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open. “Especially, the whole day I was on the outside looking in. That’s pretty much how I looked at it. I had to … play a really nice back nine yesterday just to be playing the weekend, so I felt like I had new life.”
He didn’t waste it.
Owner of the low round so far on the South, Finau bagged four birdies on his front nine and two on the back, including two-putting for birdie on his last hole to leave him one shot off Nick Watney’s South Course record from 2011.
Of course, the real haymaker of Finau’s round was his eagle on the turn. A 308-yard tee shot split the fairway on the par-4, 448-yard No. 1; he then bounced the ball into the cup from there from 138 yards out.
“Just a perfect little pitching wedge, a little flighted draw and hit it perfect and it landed right in the middle of the slope and just spun right into the hole,” Finau said. “So that was really exciting. That’s when the round kind of got my attention, the juices started to flow a little bit as I was making kind of a run there.”
Finau credited his putter for his turnaround, although he made sure not to give away any secrets too early. The metrics say he lost 5.025 strokes on his 34 putts on the South on Wednesday (1-over) and gained 3.088 on his 27 putts on the same course Friday.
Asked about his specific adjustment in his setup, Finau smiled: “Yeah, we’re going to hold that close to the chest because we’re not done with this tournament yet. Obviously didn’t feel as good over it the last couple days and felt better over it today.”
He said what?
Bottom line, Max Homa understands he’s an entertainer. So when Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief tournaments and competitions officer, sent him a clip of former Dodgers’ shortstop Trea Turner making plays while on the microphone up for a broadcast, the 32-year-old SoCal native was game.
“This is an entertainment product,” Homa said, “and that means we should entertain.”
With that, CBS rolled out its first rendition of a “mic’d-up” golfer. Homa played the South Course No. 13 hole with an AirPod in his left ear. The broadcast team talked directly with him between swings — including after he buried his approach shot into the rough above the bunker.
Given his outsized personality on social media, Homa was a good guinea pig.
“It’s not good when they can’t find it,” Homa said as he walked down the fairway. “So I’m sure this is just of a peach of a lie.”
Indeed, he called for a rules official before getting a drop. Homa ultimately chipped out to 18 feet from the flag and two-putted to save par en route to a 1-under 71 that has him in a tie for fourth place heading into the final day.
“Hopefully people at home appreciated it and enjoyed it because I just think it’s a little different than in an interview,” Homa said. “You’re learning about a hole, about not just the player but about the tournament and the golf course and what it takes to be playing high-level, competitive golf.”
Up and down
A day after finishing the North Course with the low round of the day (5-under), Tano Goya’s fortunes turned drastically. He double-bogeyed his first hole Friday and added five strokes on holes No. 4-7, including his second double on his front nine. Though he picked up a stroke with a birdie on nine, Goya bogeyed 11 and 12 en route to shooting 8 over and falling into a tie for 49th place.
The disastrous turn spoiled what had been a feel-good story in the 34-year-old rookie’s first Farmers start.
In addition to sitting in third after 36 holes, Goya and caddie Facundo Delapenna had been providing plenty of color on the course with matching Full Wedge shirts.
They’re more than happy to roll with the ribbing they take from fellow golfers.
“Some make jokes,” Goya said. “But we like it. It’s a thing for us. We’re really good friends and we’ve been pretty much staying every week together and we bond really well. For us it’s a thing we’re going to keep going.
“I think Full Wedge likes it as well. We just try to have fun out there every day in the tournament, so it’s a great thing.”
- Xander Schauffele (San Diego State) shot 3-under to move from T-36 to T-15 with a three-day score of 212. Rickie Fowler (Murrieta Valley High School) was two strokes better on Friday in moving into a tie for ninth at 211. The other local still alive, Michael Kim (Torrey Pines High School) is tied for 24th after a 2-under 70 moved his three-day score to 213.