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American Tony Finau continues improvement at major tournaments

Tony Finau looks on on the first hole

Tony Finau looks on on the first hole during the final round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on Sunday in Portrush, United Kingdom. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — Tony Finau is the baggage handler’s son from Salt Lake City who turned down a college basketball scholarship — he was great rebounder in high school — to become a golf pro and play on the mini-tours. He got his education on the greens instead of the classrooms.

Finau received attention of the wrong kind when he sprained an ankle celebrating during the par-3 contest before the 2018 Masters (though he did finish 10th).

But he was a captain’s pick for the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team, and on Sunday, when others fell victim to the conditions, he shot a par 71 to finish third in the British Open with a 7-under 277 total, eight shots behind winner Shane Lowry (72).

“We had a weather storm in the middle of the round,” Finau said. “The wind was hard. We got the worst of it, 40 miles per hour into us. But I’m proud of the way I played this week. Close to my best finish in a major [and] on this venue [it’s] pretty cool.”

It is his best finish. He has a fifth in last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and he tied for fifth at this year’s Masters.

That 2018 U.S. Open tournament was won by Brooks Koepka, who shot a final-round 74 Sunday to tie for fourth with Lee Westwood (73) at 278.

Koepka began his round at 9 under but opened with four straight bogeys before an eagle at the fifth hole.

“I played good this week,” said Koepka, who after earlier rounds bemoaned his putting, “so obviously disappointing not to get the finish I was looking for. I’ll try to figure it out and try to improve next year.”

Last year’s winner, Francesco Molinari (66), had the day’s best round and his 281 total tied for 11th after he started the round 54th. He finished before the bad weather arrived.

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