The Finau and Final Ryder Cup Pick

Tony Finau
Tony Finau, the first Tongan-American on the PGA Tour, rounds out Team USA in this year’s Ryder Cup.

Utah’s Tony Finau is the right choice as 12th member of U.S. Ryder Cup team.

By Jon Rizzi

[easyazon_infoblock align=”right” identifier=”B07H7DT7BM” locale=”US” tag=”coloradoavidg-20″]Those looking for a Colorado connection to this year’s Ryder Cup can take some pride in U.S. Team Captain Jim Furyk’s selection of a Mountain Time Zone native to fill the 12th and final spot on the team’s roster.

Although he hasn’t won any PGA Tour events this season, Tony Finau, the strapping six-foot-four player from Utah, has earned his place on the squad.

This season, Finau has three runner-up finishes and his 11 top-10s ties him with Dustin Johnson for the most on the Tour.

Moreover, he finished second, fourth and eighth in the first three legs of the FedEx Cup playoffs, capping off the BMW Championship with a 65 on Sunday—his 15th consecutive sub-70 round.

So, he’s a hot player, the kind the PGA of America wanted to bring on the team when it created the “Horschel rule,” so named after Billy Horschel, who won the 2014 BMW Championship here at Cherry Hills and followed it with the TOUR Championship at East Lake but wasn’t added to the team because the roster had already been finalized.

(And if you’re looking for another Colorado connection, Horschel just joined Aspen’s Maroon Creek Club, which is also the home course of 1999 Ryder Cup hero Justin Leonard.)

Tied with Horschel for third at this year’s BMW was another man with a Colorado tie: Xander Schauffele, the Tour’s reigning Rookie of the Year and Finau’s closest competitor in the U.S. Team’s 12th Man Sweepstakes.

BRONCOS FAN: Caddie Austin Kaiser (right) with Xander Schauffele
BRONCOS FAN: Caddie Austin Kaiser (right) with Xander Schauffele during the 2018 BMW Championship. (Screen capture courtesy of Sam Adams.)

At this year’s BMW at Aronimink Golf Club, Schauffele’s caddie, former San Diego State teammate Austin Kaiser, gave him distances from a yardage book sporting a Denver Broncos logo.

Despite growing up in Chargers country, Kaiser roots hard for the Broncos, as his Instagram posts show. His team won on Sunday, and his boss almost did, shooting a 67 to finish at 19-under, one stroke behind playoff-bound Justin Rose and Keegan Bradley, the eventual winner,

Although Finau finished three shots behind Schauffele in the BMW at Aronimink, he has had the more consistent and better season. And he’s playing lights out.

Furyk, whom the PGA of America strategically paired with Finau and Schauffele during the first two rounds of the PGA Championship at Bellerive, made the right choice.

The 28-year-old Salt Lake City native will be joining fellow Ryder Cup rookies Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas when the U.S. squares off against Europe Sept 28-30.

In contrast, the Europeans will send out five first-time Ryder Cuppers—Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Thorbjorn Olesen—in their efforts to wrest the Cup back from the Americans.

Will the U.S. edge in experience triumph over Europe’s home-course advantage?

Mountain time will tell.

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