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3M Open Notebook: Tony Finau overcomes putting woes to stay in contention

Finau is at 13 under for the tournament, tied for third and five back of leader Scott Piercy heading into the final round.

PGA: 3M Open - Third Round
Tony Finau hits a shot from the rough on the ninth hole Saturday, July 23, 2022, during the third round of the 3M Open golf tournament in Blaine, Minnesota.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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BLAINE, Minnesota -- Tony Finau’s first hole following a six and a half hour weather delay Saturday was a doozy.

It was the par-4 ninth — one of the longest, most difficult holes on the course. Finau made a bit of a mess of it, too. He was wayward off the tee, then left his approach short. His third raced past the hole to the edge of the rough, about 35 feet from the cup.

In order to catch the ball cleanly against the rough, Finau turned his putter to hit it with the toe of the club.

Bogey seemed inevitable. But he struck the “putt” cleanly, and into the hole it went for a crucial par. That it went in didn’t necessarily surprise Finau.

“I use (the toe) often. Whenever I’m in the first cut or on the collar I use it, so I’m actually pretty lethal with it, which is cool,” he said. “I made a few out here on tour kind of in that same situation, so it was nice to build some momentum off that putt.”

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It was a big moment amid Finau’s 6-under 65 round. That leaves him at 13 under for the tournament, tied for third and five back of leader Scott Piercy heading into the final round. That’s a nice spot to be in, no question. Yet it seems like a letdown considering Finau is lapping the field with his driving and iron play through three days.

Finau is nearly nine shots better than Piercy tee to green. But Piercy is leading the field in putting, while Finau is losing strokes to the field on the green. Finau said he didn’t feel as good over his putts Saturday, and was off to the practice green after his post-round media session to work things out and potentially make a run at the tournament title Sunday.

“The biggest thing is the ball-striking’s there. Sometimes putts fall, sometimes they don’t,” he said. “A lot of things happen on a Sunday on the PGA Tour. One shot at a time is something you guys hear all the time. You can’t get too far ahead of yourself, but I know this is a golf course I can attack, and if I get off to the right start, I think there’s a low one in me for tomorrow.”

See ya Sunday

Fans who had tickets to Round 3 can again use those for entry onto the TPC Twin Cities grounds for Sunday’s final-round action, the tournament announced Saturday afternoon. Attendance unsurprisingly dipped post rain delay in the evening.

Team reunion

Spring Lake Park grad Troy Merritt was a multi-sport athlete in high school. Along with his golfing prowess, he also led the Panthers to their first boys basketball state tournament appearance in 2004.

His former Panthers hoops coaches made the short trip to Blaine to watch Merritt’s second-round performance on Friday. They all took a photo with Merritt after his round.

“Glad we got the old boys out of the retirement home,” Merritt joked on Twitter after his round. “Awesome to see them all out there today.”

Going low

J.T. Poston fired a 7-under 64 on Saturday to get to 9 under for the tournament. That doesn’t come close to serving as his best round in recent weeks. He shot 62s in consecutive tournaments this summer en route to placing second at The Travelers and winning the John Deere Classic.

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Poston has grown accustomed to going low on Tour.

“I’d like to think it was something I already learned how to do a little bit, but it was just a culmination of the game finally coming together,” Poston said. “Every piece has been good, ball-striking has what’s been lacking in probably the last 12 months or so, and really since probably April it’s been much better meeting, heating up, and that leads to a lot birdies and low scores.”

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