LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Coming off a win on Sunday at the 3M Open, Tony Finau stayed in stellar form and shot an eight-under 64 to tie Canada’s Taylor Pendrith for the first-round lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Thursday (July 28) in Detroit.
Finau and Pendrith were one shot shy of tying the course record at Detroit Golf Club. They hold a two-shot edge over five golfers tied for third at six-under 66: Michael Thompson, Webb Simpson, Cameron Champ, Lee Hodges and England’s Matt Wallace.
Finau hit all 18 greens in regulation, carded eight birdies and stayed bogey-free.
“The ball-striking was nice today,” Finau said. “I guess I hit every green, which I wasn’t aware of until after my round. First time in my career, so that was nice. I had a look every single hole for birdie and was able to pop a few in.”
Finau snapped a 5½ year drought between PGA Tour wins when he won The Northern Trust last August. Last week’s come-from-behind win at the 3M Open marked his third career title.
According to the PGA Tour, Finau is the first player since Dustin Johnson in 2018 to win a tournament, then hold at least a share of the first-round lead the following week.
“This game’s a funny game because sometimes you play well and the next week you’re a little flat, sometimes you play well and you keep it going,” Finau said. “It was nice to keep it going after last week and keep it going today.”
Pendrith, meanwhile, is ranked No. 237 in the Official World Golf Ranking and looking for his first win on tour.
Pendrith led last October’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship after the second and third rounds before a final-round 76 doomed him to a tie for fifth.
“I learnt a lot that day,” Pendrith said. “It was obviously brutal conditions, but basically can’t lay off, you’ve got to always keep trying to make birdies, especially out here. Looks like the scores are pretty low, so should be a bit of a birdie-fest unless the weather changes.”
Starting on the back nine, he picked up three birdies in his first four holes and later added five between Nos. 1-7, the longest putt a 24-footer at the par-three fifth. He led the field with nine birdies while taking just one bogey.
A massive 14-player tie at five-under 67 included Zach Johnson and South Korea’s Kim Si-woo among its notable names.
Mark Hubbard made a hole-in-one at the par-three 11th on his way to a four-under 68.
He dropped his club at the top of his follow-through, believing he’d hit a poor shot.
“Honestly, it was pretty embarrassing,” Hubbard said. “Didn’t quite know where the ball was going today. I just felt really stuck and I thought it was going to be way right of the green. I looked up and it was a perfect 1-yard draw. (Playing partner Wyndham Clark) actually was like, as soon as I let go, he’s like, ‘Dude, that better not go in’, but sure enough it landed and trickled in like a putt.”