OWINGS MILLS, Md. – When you’re hungry, you eat.
Tony Finau, starved for victory for nearly five years on the PGA Tour but rarely demoralized as he kept up the hunt, finally satisfied his ferocious appetite by coming up clutch throughout the final round and then defeating Cameron Smith in a playoff to win the Northern Trust this past Monday.
And after 1,975 days of that empty feeling since winning his first PGA Tour title in the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, he filled up his belly.
Finau celebrated his win in the first FedEx Cup Playoffs event with a mid-evening dinner with a few members of his team at Ruth’s Chris Steak House that wrapped up around 11 p.m. Four hours later he went to town at McDonald’s.
“I couldn’t really sleep. I was still on quite a high, which was cool,” he said. “Then Boyd (Summerhays, his coach) and I got hungry again.
“I ordered a lot.”
Talk about a supersized order. Finau had a Big Mac, double quarter pounder with cheese, 10 chicken nuggets, large fries, an Oreo McFlurry and a bottle of water.
“And I had no problem cleaning all of it up,” he said.
Now Finau is now craving win No. 3. The win moved him to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup race, to No. 9 in the world golf rankings and to No. 6 on the Ryder Cup points list for the U.S. team (the top 6 automatically qualify at week’s end).
“Right back at it this week,” Finau said Wednesday at roasting Caves Valley Golf Club, home to the BMW Championship, the second of three postseason events. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m in great position here in the FedExCup now to make a serious run at winning. My attention needs to turn to that. But I have enjoyed the last couple days soaking in another victory. It’s been five years.”
— Tony Finau Golf (@tonyfinaugolf) August 24, 2021
Pushing him along will be a wave of good vibes after receiving, in his words, more than 1,000 messages after his Northern Trust win. It took him hours to scroll through and listen to all of them.
“It’s been really cool to see the amount of joy a lot of people have for my success,” he said. “Selfishly I want to win, but to be able to see how many people have enjoyed this win for me, my family, my friends, it’s been really, really cool for me.
“I’ve kind of starved, I think, a lot of my fans and supporters of a win for five years, so this one is special in that I’ve gained, I think, a lot of fans in these five years. To be able to share this with so many people has been very, very special.”
One of those fans is Tiger Woods.
“One of the very first (messages) was from Tiger, and that was a very special one,” Finau said. “He was just explaining to me that he was proud of me and the fight and grit that I had. That was obviously a very, very special one for me to see.
“Again, he was one of the first, which means he was watching, which for me is very, very cool. I have to throw that out there as probably right at the top.”
Other messages included those from Utah Jazz basketball players Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley and many of his peers on the golf course.
The win in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty also validated Finau’s handling of the drought.
“I’ve always had an attitude of perseverance,” he said. “I was somehow taught since I was a kid, and something that’s very important to me, is to try and overcome the obstacles, try and learn from your mistakes and overcome.
“I will say it was extremely hard to do that. I have had a lot of disappointment and frustration from those losses, but I took it on the chin. I didn’t get discouraged.
“That was the biggest part, I used it as fuel to do better.”