Dear Diary: big-hitter Finau eyes outside odds at first Hong Kong Open


Hong Kong (AFP)

President's Cup winner Tony Finau will turn to his nightly journal ahead of the final day of the Hong Kong Open as he eyes an outside victory at his debut appearance at the competition.

The 30-year-old American has been keeping a post-match diary of his game performance and "feelings and things" since he turned pro, and says it is the last thing he does before he goes to sleep.

Setting down his thoughts "helps when I'm not playing good and it helps when I am playing well", said Finau, who shot a five-under-par 65 on Saturday -- his best round of the tournament, taking him within six shots of leader and course veteran Wade Ormsby.

"It's something I actually tell a lot of juniors. Take notes on how you feel and how you play and I think it will help you move forward."

The world number 16 is making his debut at Fanling as the highest-ranked player, and the powerful hitter admits it has taken time to get to grips with the course's short fairways and fast greens.

On Saturday, Finau's putts for birdies on the eighth, ninth and eighteenth came just short, and he will have to persevere and pull something out of the bag to lift himself into contention on Sunday.

He did just that last month in the President's Cup when he overturned a four-point deficit against Japan's Hideki Matsuyama for a vital draw that teed Tiger Woods's team up for victory on the fourth day.

And in 2018, he appeared to pop his ankle back into place after dislocating it while celebrating a hole-in-one, returning to play his first round at the Masters a day later.

The six-foot-four American, who is of Tongan and Samoan descent, credits calm and perseverance to his "humble" beginnings in Salt Lake City where he practiced by hitting balls against a mattress hung up in a garage to save on club fees.

He later failed to graduate Q-school five times, learning several lessons in perseverance -- and filling up more journal space.

The struggles paid off and in 2016 he won Puerto Rico Open, and later became the first Polynesian to play in the Ryder Cup, where he provided a rare bright spot as a USA captain's pick in a crushing loss to Europe.

Finau -- also a cousin of NBA player Jabari Parker -- also has his eyes on playing for his country in the Olympics in Tokyo this year.

"I'm back in this thing," he said after his third round at Fanling. "18 holes tomorrow. I'm capable of that on this golf course. Nothing to lose."