Seeking a performance that will put him back into contention for a spot on the United States’ Ryder Cup team, Utah’s Tony Finau didn’t get one Thursday as The Open Championship began at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
Finau shot a 2-over-par 73 in the first round and is tied for 66th place at the last major of the season. The former Salt Lake City and Lehi resident is hovering near the cut line entering Friday’s second round.
He tees off at 2:47 am MDT Friday.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood, amateur Christo Lamprecht of South Africa, and Emiliano Grillo of Argentina share the first-round lead at 5-under. Three players are at 4-under, including American Brian Harman.
Finau got some television time Thursday, but not for the right reasons. He knocked his approach shot into one of Royal Liverpool’s infamous pot bunkers on the par-5 fifth hole and had to putt his third shot away from the bunker’s steep face because he had no other way of escaping the hazard.
He ended up making bogey, falling back to even-par.
Finau had birdied the opening hole to get to 1-under before the unlucky break on No. 5.
He made another bogey on the par-4 10th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
His only other birdie came on the par-3 13th when he missed the green short and right, but chipped in from 17 yards for the 2 on his scorecard.
He made pars on holes 15, 17 and 18, which isn’t optimal because 15 and 18 are par-5s and the long-hitting Finau usually flourishes on those longer holes.
He made another bogey on No. 16 after missing the fairway and then eventually missed an 11-footer for par.
Finau is currently No. 18 in the standings to make the Ryder Cup team for the US The top six receive automatic invitations, and then there are six captains picks.
Having won twice this season, Finau was well on his way to making the team, but suddenly he’s struggling — as was the case Thursday in Hoylake.
Finau has traditionally played well in The Open Championship, having made the cut in all six previous appearances.
He has made the cut in 24 of 29 majors, but that stellar record in golf’s biggest events is in jeopardy. So is his hope of making it into the premier team event in all of professional golf.