Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
By Brian Wacker
A week ago, Tony Finau said his play was making it tough for Jim Furyk not to pick him to be on this year’s Ryder Cup team.
He was right.
On Monday, Furyk made it official, using the last of his four captain’s picks on the 28-year old to finalize the 12-man U.S. team that will head to Paris later this month. It will be Finau’s first Ryder Cup appearance.
“He has an unbelievable body of work this year,” Furyk said in a statement Monday afternoon. “All those top-10 finishes, the play in big championships and the Majors, and then his current form, a second, a fourth and an eighth in the playoffs. He checked a lot of boxes and made it impossible not to pick him.”
Finau offered his own response on Twitter.
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) September 10, 2018
Though other players were being considered — Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner among them — it’s hard to argue against what Finau, 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking, has done, especially lately.
Knowing a Ryder Cup spot was on the line, Finau shot 65 Monday to tie for eighth at the BMW Championship. It was his third-straight top-10 finish after a tie for fourth at the Dell Technologies Championship and a runner-up at the FedEx Cup Playoffs opener, the Northern Trust.
Though Finau has just one career victory, in 2016 at the Puerto Rico Open, his 10 top-10 finishes this season trail only Dustin Johnson for the most on the PGA Tour. Among them was a tie for 10th at the Masters on an injured ankle, a fifth-place finish at the U.S. Open and a ninth-place finish at the Open Championship.
At the PGA Championship, Finau stumbled with an opening-round 74 playing alongside Furyk but rallied with a record-tying 10 birdies the next day to shoot 66 to make the cut on the number at Bellerive. He also missed just three cuts this year.
Then there are the elements of Finau’s game that stand out. Going into the BMW, he ranked in the top 30 on tour in strokes gained off the tee, approach and around the green. Though he was 82nd in putting, he was 11th on tour in birdies and 10th in scoring average.
Schauffele, meanwhile, entered the final round of the BMW a stroke off the lead before shooting 67 to finish T-3 but wasn’t quite as consistent as Finau this year.
In 23 starts in 2018, the 24-year-old who earned Rookie of the Year honors last season had five top 10s, including runner-up finishes at the Open Championship and the Players as well as a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open. But he also struggled since the runner-up at Carnoustie, with his X at the BMW his lone finish in the top 30 over his last five starts. He also missed five cuts this season.
Kisner likewise struggled down the stretch, never factoring at the BMW and registering just one finish in the top 20, a tie for 12th at the PGA, over his last six starts.