Finau seizes PGA Houston Open lead, Scheffler streak ends

golf30 March 2024 04:00| © AFP
article image
Tony Finau © Gallo Images

Defending champion Tony Finau made four birdies and an eagle in his last seven holes to grab a two-stroke lead at the Houston Open on Friday as world No 1 Scottie Scheffler's streak of under-par rounds came to an end.

Finau fired an eight-under-par 62 to finish 36 holes at Memorial Park on nine-under 131, two clear of Argentina's Alejandro Tosti, who shot three-under-par 67 to reach the halfway stage at seven under.

"I've played some nice golf the first couple days and the game's in a good place," Finau said. "Just don't overthink it, get some rest, be properly prepared, properly rested for the weekend."

Finau started on the back nine and made a 10-foot birdie putt at 13, a birdie at the par-5 16th after reaching the green in two and a 13-foot birdie putt at 18, followed by his lone bogey of the day at the first.

Finau barely missed on a 31-foot eagle putt at the par-5 third and tapped in for birdie, then sank a 27-foot birdie putt at the fourth.

He added 30-foot birdie putts at the sixth and par-3 seventh then holed out from just inside 40 feet to eagle the par-5 eighth and at the par-3 ninth rolled a 16-foot birdie putt past the hole to miss out on 61.

"I knew what it was for – 61 would have been my lowest on the tour and the course record," Finau said. "I knew I was going to give it a run. I wasn't going to leave it short.


"I hit a good putt and it was barely too low. I thought I hit it hard enough for it to stay on the line."

Finau fired a second-round 62 to win the 2022 Houston Open when the event was played in November. The tournament went unplayed last year due to the PGA shift to a calendar-year season, giving Finau a chance to defend this week and compare his 62s.

"I think my 62 in the fall was actually better," Finau said. "The golf course can yield some birdies from the rough because the rough is so much shorter.

"When I (first) shot 62, I hit 14 out of 14 fairways and that was quite impressive. But 62 is good any time of the year and I'll take the one today."

Argentina's Tosti rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on his final hole to edge into second place ahead of Belgium's Thomas Detry, who shot a six-under-par 64 for a six-under 36-hole aggregate of 134.

Scheffler, meanwhile, was left in a group of six players tied for fourth on five under after three-putting from six feet for a double-bogey six on the 18th that saw him card a level-par 70.

The final hole stumbled ended Scheffler's sequence of 28 consecutive under-par rounds to start the year, a run that had been the longest on record since 1983 according to the PGA Tour.

"I'm obviously a touch frustrated with how I finished, but overall I'm still in the middle of the tournament," Scheffler said afterward.

The American said it wouldn't take him too long to rebound mentally after his disappointing finish.

"It was the last hole of the day so I'm just going to go get some rest, get some recovery, head home," he said.