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Tony Finau’s place in final group builds his confidence

Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood and Tony Finau all finished at the top of the leaderboard but fell short of the championship title. Fresh off the course on Sunday, they discuss this year’s tournament at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton. (Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman)

Tony Finau still is best known as the guy who dislocated his left ankle celebrating a hole-in-one at the Par-3 contest the day before the 2018 Masters, popped it back into place, then somehow finished 10th at Augusta.

But his performance at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills was another step in establishing himself more as a world-class player than a blooper-reel star.

Finau finished in fifth place at 5-over par after shooting a 2-over par 72 on Sunday, and would have tied for third if he simply had parred the final hole rather than double-bogeying it.

Still, not bad for a guy who improbably went from 11 strokes back entering the third round to the final group in a major championship — thanks to an early 66 on Saturday, before the course grew far more difficult in late afternoon.

Finau’s round on Sunday was an adventure, with five birdies, five bogeys and that late double. But hey, it was a heck of an experience.

“This is the first major championship where I was really in contention,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of top 10 finishes, but not really anywhere near the leader board or near the top. This is the first time I got a taste of that final group, and coming down the stretch, having a chance to try and catch Brooks [Koepka], it was a lot of fun for me.

“It’s huge for my confidence just moving forward, knowing that I’ve been there, been in that situation, and I have the game to play against the best players in the world on some of the toughest courses.”

Finau and Daniel Berger both played early on Saturday, then spent the rest of the day watching the field come back to them and, shockingly, land them in the final group. Berger shot a 73 and tied for sixth place at 6-over.

“It was nuts,” Finau said. “When I finished, I was in 10th place. [Dustin Johnson] had just teed off when I finished. To be honest, I was expecting him to maybe give a couple back. But I would never even have dreamed of being in the final group . . . Watching the guys comes back to me was crazy. But, you know, that’s major championship golf.”

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