Tony Finau is thankful for the thousands of messages congratulating him on his Northern Trust victory, and he singled out one from Tiger Woods.
Finau has been inundated with well-wishes since his play-off win over Cam Smith at Liberty National on Monday, claiming his second PGA Tour title over five years after his first with a succession of near-misses in between – including 10 runner-up finishes.
The victory also swept Finau to the top of the FedExCup standings ahead of this week’s penultimate event at the BMW Championship in Baltimore, and he is still riding the wave of goodwill that has been directed his way over the last two days.
“Right out of the gate, once I got down to reading all the messages, one of the very first was from Tiger, and that was a very special one,” said Finau. “He was just explaining to me that he was proud of me and the fight and grit that I had. That was obviously a very, very special one for me to see.
“Again, he was one of the first, which means he was watching, which for me is very, very cool. I have to throw that out there as probably right at the top.
“And then countless athletes. Donovan Mitchell is an amazing basketball player for the Utah Jazz. Being a Jazz fan, that was a cool one for me. My buddy Mike Conley, who’s a point guard for the Jazz.
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“But those are just a few of I feel like so many people. It’s been really cool to see how many are following my career and are generally happy for this victory.
“I’ve kind of starved I think a lot of my fans and supporters of a win for five years, so this one is special in that I’ve gained, I think, a lot of fans in these five years, and to be able to share this with so many people has been very, very special.”
But how many messages had he received? A few hundred? Over a thousand?
“Oh, in the thousands for sure,” added Finau with a hint of modesty. “It was in the thousands, which again is just pretty amazing how many people were willing to reach out and just show their support and how happy they were for me.”
Finau, having had time to contemplate the enormity of his win, highlighted the value of mental strength and perseverance having endured so many close calls since his maiden PGA Tour title in Puerto Rico in 2016, and he is now intent on maintaining his challenge for the FedExCup title.
“I consider myself a very mentally strong person. A lot of those losses, you just have to take them on the chin,” he added. “I’ve always had an attitude of perseverance. I was somehow taught since I was a kid, and something that’s very important to me is try and overcome the obstacles, try and learn from your mistakes and overcome.
“I will say it was extremely hard to do that. I have had a lot of disappointment and frustration from those losses, but I took it on the chin and I wanted to get better from it, what can I learn from it and how can I persevere through that.
“I didn’t get discouraged. That was the biggest part was I used it as fuel to do better, to try and learn and not think about how impossible it is to have a feat such as winning a golf tournament and a big one. It was, ‘all right, keep doing what you’re doing, one foot in front of the other, and it’s going to happen’.
“So I had to have that type of belief, but it was extremely hard to do that. We live in an era now where you guys are watching our every move, and I’m going to have critics, but that’s how it is, and that’s what I signed up for, and I know that.
“I expect that, and now that I’ve kind of broken that barrier, at least I feel like I have, with this big second win, my goal moving forward is to continue with this momentum and make a run down at this FedExCup.”
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August 26, 2021, 5:30pm
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