Tony Finau knew Scottie Scheffler had “special” talent during his rookie season


Scottie Scheffler burst onto the scene during the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, which was briefly interrupted by the pandemic.

Not many golfers and fans, both in and outside the sport, knew the talent Scheffler possessed at the time. Tony Finau was even one of those people.

“The first time I played with Scottie, I didn’t really know who he was because he was a rookie on the PGA Tour, and I played with him at TPC Boston,” Finau said Tuesday ahead of the Texas Children’s Houston Open.

“We’re playing together, and after nine holes, I think he shoots 7-under or whatever. I’m not really paying attention; I’m kind of focused on my own game. We get to the 17th, and he makes another birdie. I look over to my caddie, and I’m like, man, this guy’s got to be 8 or 9-under, and my caddie’s like, how about 11?”

Scottie Scheffler, PGA Tour

Scottie Scheffler smiles after making birdie on the 18th hole during the second round of the 2020 Northern Trust.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

During the second round of the 2020 Northern Trust, formerly the first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs held at TPC Boston, Scheffler went on a tear.

He birdied eight of his first 11 holes, as the rookie soared up the leaderboard in the process.

Three more birdies at the 14th, 15th, and 16th holes followed, and by the time he arrived at the par-5 18th, Scheffler needed a birdie to reach golf’s perfect score: an illustrious 59.

Unsurprisingly, Scheffler did, in fact, birdie the 18th, holing a 4-footer to shoot 59.

“I was playing with him, and that was the first time I heard of him; it was the first time that I played with him,” Finau said.

“So that gave you an idea—maybe not the first time I heard of him, but I vaguely knew who he was coming from the Korn Ferry Tour. I knew he was a good player. But anyways, that was the first time I played with Scottie; he shot a 59 at TPC Boston, and I knew he was special from that moment on.”

Scheffler finished fourth that week, 13 strokes behind Dustin Johnson, who shot a preposterous 30-under for the tournament. But Scheffler went on to qualify for the Tour Championship, an impressive feat for any PGA Tour player, let alone a rookie.

Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, The Masters

Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, and Adam Scott shake hands after finishing their second rounds at the 2022 Masters Tournament.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Since then, Scheffler has made the 2021 and 2023 Ryder Cup teams, triumphed at Augusta National in 2022, and ascended to the world’s number-one ranking. He currently has eight PGA Tour victories to his name, two of which have come in his last two starts.

“When he won the Masters, I played with him the first two rounds, and it was evident to me that he was going to be hoisting the green jacket after that on Friday,” Finau added.

His tee-to-green metrics have been off the charts for the past two seasons, leading many to compare him to Tiger Woods. Scheffler rarely makes a mistake and finds fairways and greens at a rate not seen since Woods in 2006, when he won The Open Championship and PGA Championship.

But Scheffler’s charming personality and love for his family are infectious, too.

“I played enough rounds with him to know how great of a player he is, but I think it doesn’t beat the person that he is,” Finau said.

“I think he’s pretty fantastic for our game, and it’s cool to see all the success that he’s having.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.





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