Tony Finau fired eight birdies in a near-flawless eight-under-par 64 on Thursday to share the Rocket Mortgage Classic lead with Taylor Pendrith.
“I was riding the high off of last week,” said Finau, who pulled away late on Sunday to win the 3M Open in Minnesota by three strokes.
At Detroit Golf Club, Finau hit all but one fairway and – for the first time in his career – all 18 greens in regulation.
“I had a look every single hole for birdie and was able to pop a few in,” Finau said.
Finau teed off on 10 and rolled in an eight-foot birdie. He added birdies at the 12th, 14th, 15th and 17th to make the turn five-under.
He picked up three more birdies coming in, flying a four-iron frm 250 yards to 42 feet for a two-putt birdie at the par-five 7th and draining a 41-foot birdie putt at the 8th.
“I had to get all of it to get it to the hole and hit it right in the middle of the green and was able to two-putt that to kind of keep the momentum up on a solid round,” Finau said of his impressive birdie at the 7th.
He had a 20-foot birdie attempt at his final hole for a course record – but couldn’t get it to drop.
“A few of my putts were like that out there, just left them right in the heart a little short,” he said.
Pendrith, a rookie from Canada who was sidelined after the Players Championship in March with a broken rib then had to pull out of the John Deere Classic after testing positive for Covid, had nine birdies with one bogey in his eight-under effort.
“When I’m healthy, I can compete with the best,” Pendrith said. “Other than the injury, it’s been a great rookie year so far and just nice to be back.”
Pendrith also opened with a birdie at the 10th, and added three more before his one bogey at the 18th, where he was in a fairway bunker off the tee.
He added five birdies coming in, including a 24-footer at the 5th.
Pendrith was enjoying Detroit, having driven down from Canada with his wife and with friends and family in attendance.
“It feels like a home game,” he said.
The leading duo were two strokes clear of their nearest rivals, with England’s Matt Wallace among the five players on 66 along with Americans Michael Thompson, Webb Simpson, Cameron Champ and Lee Hodges.
Fourteen players were a further stroke back on 67 and another big group on 68 included defending champion Cam Davis and American Mark Hubbard – who dropped his club in disgust at his tee shot on the 11th only for it to take a big hop on the green and roll into the cup for a hole-in-one the American called “pretty embarrassing”.
It was a difficult day for the three South Africans in the field, with Garrick Higgo carding a one-over 73, Dylan Frittelli a two-over 74 and Dawie van der Walt a four-over 76.
© Agence France-Presse