JERSEY CITY, N.J. (ABC4 Sports) – Since winning his first PGA Tour event in 2016, Utah’s Tony Finau had 39 top-10 finishes, 11 top-3 finishes, and 8 runner-up finishes. He also lost in a playoff three times.
So when he finally ended the drought on Monday by winning the Northern Trust in a playoff over Cameron Smith, Finau let out a massive sigh of relief.
“It’s more massive for just my sense of accomplishment for myself,” said Finau, who finished 20-under par. “I’ve worked extremely hard, not only on my game but on my body to put myself in these types of positions. Eventually I knew it was going to happen.”
So what kept him going after so many disappointments? His belief in himself.
“It’s hard losing,” Finau said. “It’s hard losing in front of the world. These guys are so good as it is. If you can’t believe you can beat them, it’s just an uphill battle. So I just continued to believe.”
“He’s come so close for so long,” added Finau’s swing coach Boyd Summerhays, who has known Finau since he was a kid. “He’s had some agonizingly tough losses where he’s played great but was just on the wrong end of it. And today it was just his time.”
As a West High School graduate, Finau said this victory was for all his supporters in Utah as much as it was for him.
“It was huge for me, huge for my family, huge for all my supporters back home in Utah,” Finau said. “I have so many people that reach out to me telling me they’re fans and I really feel it. Utah is a great place. Utah is always home for me, and to be able to share this with so many people is what I think is so cool about this. This is for all of them and I’m excited that we can share this together.”
Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham’s screamed in elation when he was told after Monday’s practice that Finau won.
“Yes! I was going to have you not tell me because I was going to record it,” Whittingham said. But since you spilled the beans, awesome. Congratulations Tony Finau.”
In Provo, the celebration was just as intense, as BYU head coach Kalani Sitake watched his friend and fellow Polysesian win on the PGA Tour.
“It was really cool to see,” Sitake. “It’s not just the Polynesian community, but the local community in the state of Utah. Everyone is so excited for him, and it shows how united we all are.”
Now that the monkey is off his back and he doesn’t have to answer any more questions about when he is going to win another tournament, the victories may start to pile up for Finau.
“This has been the time for me to win again,” Finau said. “I hope I don’t have to wait another five years for the next one.”