After playing his final nine holes in 5 under on Thursday, Tony Finau kept his foot on the gas pedal early Friday morning at the 2022 Houston Open. Beginning his day with a crucial par save, the four-time PGA Tour winner tacked on 10 birdies against two blemishes over the course of his next 17 holes to tie the course record with an 8-under 62 at Memorial Park Golf Course.
"I thought I just took the momentum that I had from yesterday. I finished 5 under on my last nine yesterday and I just rolled that momentum right into today," said Finau. "I thought I made a huge putt for par on No. 1 and then I was kind of off to the races. I almost made a hole-in-one on No. 2 and just kind of cruising from there. It was a really nice round of golf."
Standing at 13 under, the 33-year-old is four strokes clear of his nearest pursuer as the conditions worsened in the Houston area in the afternoon hours and caused play to be suspended until Saturday morning when the second round will resume at 7:45 a.m. ET. With this weather expecting to persist, and with half the field still needing to complete their second rounds, this margin possessed by Finau cannot go overlooked as he attempts to fend off the competition over the weekend.
Last year's runner-up and world No. 2 Scottie Scheffler remains a threat as he sits at 5 under through 13 holes in his second round. Still eight strokes off the pace, he is all but assured to be around for the weekend, unlike his good friend Sam Burns. Burns entered the week the second highest-ranked player in the field. After an opening 7-over 77, however, Burns is unlikely to recover and make the cut.
1. Tony Finau (-13)
Despite missing the cut last week in his season debut, Finau knocked off the competitive rust at Mayakoba. Staying put in Mexico to spend quality time with the family and play a couple rounds of golf with his children, Finau was looking to rediscover the sharpness that propelled him into a memorable last few months of the 2021-22 season.
During this span, Finau teed it up in 13 tournaments -- winning twice, finishing runner-up another two times and collecting four additional top-15 finishes. Through 36 holes, his search appears to have been a successful one.
"Winning just breeds confidence. I've always felt like I was confident to win, but you've got to do it, you've got to make it happen. Having done that back to back, I think it just breeds confidence more into my belief and to my game," said Finau. "I would say that's been a nice part over these last couple years is just getting more comfortable at the top of the leaderboard. I always am trying to get better and each day that's all you can ask of yourself is just try and push yourself to be the best you can be, and the result of that is I think I've been better each year of my career and each season and hopefully I continue that trend."
2. Patrick Rodgers (-9)
T3. Tyson Alexander, Alex Noren (-8)
T5. James Hahn, Carl Yuan (-7)
T7. Wyndham Clark, Mackenzie Hughes, Aaron Rai, Ben Griffin, Ben Taylor, Trey Mullinax, Aaron Wise (-6)
This is an eclectic pack on the chase featuring journeymen, rookies, European stalwarts and everything in between. Hahn, Mullinax, Wise and Hughes are the only PGA Tour winners of the bunch, and it is the Canadian being featured in the spotlight. Playing alongside the leader the first two days, Hughes got a front row seat to Finau's exquisite play.
Not possessing his best stuff on Friday, Hughes, who won earlier this season at the Sanderson Farms Championship, kept himself in this tournament thanks to a scrappy performance. One of the best putters on the PGA Tour and recently adding some distance, Hughes could be worth a look over the weekend.
"I kind of joked with Joel [Dahmen] a little bit there that Tony [Finau] had a long pro-am day today with him and I going alongside," said Hughes. "And yeah, just felt like I was all over the lot starting out and just trying to find a way to make some pars. Was doing a good job of that for the most part. Then I got a little bit of a semblance of a swing the last five, six holes there and was able to finish the round quite nicely. All in all, it was probably about as good as I could have shot today."
Homeless Hubbs heading home early after DQ
This was a peculiar moment in the second round as Mark Hubbard was disqualified for adding an extra golf club to his bag around the turn. Standing at 9 over for the tournament through 27 holes, Hubbard was never going to make the cut and instead looked to test a different driver before packing his bags. Unbeknownst to him, his actions were grounds for disqualification.
Mark Hubbard is a DQ after the second round of the Cadence Bank Houston Open due to a violation of Rule 4.1c.— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) November 11, 2022
Hubbard knowingly added a 15th club at the turn and used the club several times without declaring it out of play.
2022 Houston Open updated odds and picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Tony Finau: 5/7
- Scottie Scheffler: 8-1
- Alex Noren: 9-1
- Patrick Rodgers: 11-1
- Aaron Wise: 14-1
- Wyndham Clark: 60-1
- Trey Mullinax: 60-1
- Davis Riley: 65-1
- Carl Yuan: 70-1
- Mackenzie Hughes: 70-1
- James Hahn: 80-1
- Aaron Rai: 90-1
Two days into this tournament and only 12 players find themselves with odds lower than 100-1. A credit to what Finau is currently doing, I would be shocked if the current leader is unable to convert the edge into his fifth victory on the PGA Tour. He is performing adequately in every aspect of the game, and in particular his putting where he ranks third in the field.