Finau paired with Mickelson for three straight rounds
Paramus, NJ- Phil Mickelson and Tony Finau were paired together for the first two rounds of the Northern Trust. They each recorded -6 scores over the first two days with plenty of entertaining shots. But between the two, Phil drew far more attention. He’s the more decorated and notable name, despite the even play. When the weekend arrived, the two men found themselves paired again. Phil again got more praise, but Tony worked his way into more praise and admiration from a crowd, and a better round.
Mickelson started off stronger, with two birdies in the first five holes and near misses on holes 1 and 3. But he double bogeyed 6 and started to unravel. Poor putting on the last three holes resulted in two near birdies and a bogey to set Phil back to -5 in the tourney. All the while, Phil outranked Tony in terms of fan attention and quips.
Finau still made his own noise. He birdied holes 3 and 7, and did not bogey a single hole on the round. Then he gained big fans on 12, when he holed out from the rough for an eagle. He added another birdie on 17 to wrap his round at -5, bringing his tournament score to -11. Through his run, the Utahan gained fans and heard his name shouted more and more. He felt satisfied with his performance. “I played nicely. I was able to make a couple saves early, which was huge. I was driving well off the tee.”
Phil still gained the lion share of fan praise, especially when he turned his day around. Phil birdied three consecutive and four out of five on the back nine. He finished his round -3 and is -9 for the tournament. He provided good perspective on his round. “It was a tale of two nines. The front nine was disappointing after getting to a couple under par and making a bad swing for a double bogey and missed a couple birdie opportunities early on, and the back nine, I played well and was able to bring it home.”
The two are on opposite ends of the fame spectrum, but played three rounds and have mutual respect for each other after. Finau noted, “It’s been fun, playing with Phil. It’s definitely a bigger atmosphere when you play with him because he’s a crowd favorite. You know, me growing up watching him, I was a big fan of him as well. It’s cool to be playing him and playing partners for the first three rounds.”
Mickelson expressed similar sentiment, and was asked about Finau’s chances for the Ryder Cup team. “Not only is he a great player, he’s a solid guy, he’s one of my favorite guys to be around.” Finau is in fourth place, and five strokes off the lead entering the final round. His Ryder Cup chances increased with his performance in Mickelson’s group this week.
The two will not be paired again on Sunday. Mickelson’s tee time is at 1:10 PM with Adam Hadwin while Finau starts at 1:50 PM with Cameron Smith.