ATLANTA — Just a week after Tony Finau received what he described as a “life-changing” phone call from U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, the Ryder Cup rookie said Tuesday that he is still coming to grips with earning the final spot on the American squad.
“Every week is the Super Bowl out here,” Finau said as he was practicing for the season-ending PGA Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club on a steamy Tuesday afternoon. “Every week is a chance to change somebody’s life. Next week it will just be double.”
Following the Tour Championship, the U.S. team is scheduled to leave at 10 p.m. Sunday night on a direct charter from Atlanta to Paris. There will be no advance White House American Team sendoff as there occasionally has been in the past. Jordan Spieth is the only U.S. team member who did not qualify for the Tour Championship, but he will join the team here Sunday.
Finau turned in three top-10 finishes in the first three major championships of the year this year along with three-top 10 finishes in the first three FedEx Cup Playoffs events, which made him the frontrunner for the last wildcard pick. Still, he didn’t know for sure until the call came from Furyk.
“It’s humbling, it really is,” he said. “This has been a dream.”
When the official announcement was made after the final round of the BMW Championship, Finau said his phone all but melted under the wave of text messages and congratulations.
“Nobody sends e-mails any longer, that’s too old school, but I got tons of text messages which I tried to return,” he said. “Jack [Nicklaus] reached out to me and Gary [Player] sent me a direct message on Instagram.”
Finau said when he got the call from Furyk, the captain also delivered two pieces of advice for the matches. “He told me he didn’t want me to change anything,” Finau said. Don’t change my swing or my rhythm or my routine or anything. Just do the same thing.
“The second thing is to get a lot of rest. He’s said it going to be a very tiring week with lots of dinners and events and golf. You need as much rest as possible.”
One of the players Finau beat out for the final spot was Tour Championship defending champion Xander Schauffele. When asked about Finau Tuesday, Schauffele had nothing but well wishes for his pal.
“I’ve always said Tony Finau and Marc Leishman are two of the nicest people here on the tour, so you have to be happy for Tony,” Schauffele said. “We play a lot of practice rounds and our caddies know each other. I sent him a text and congratulated him. He certainly deserves it.”
Schauffele said he also received a phone call from Furyk regarding the final captain’s pick.
“I just told him I wanted to make it as tough on him as possible,” Schauffele said. “He said I did a pretty good job of that. Bottom line I just didn’t get it done. I thought even with a win [at the BMW] I probably wouldn’t get in. I don’t think I would have picked me.”
During Tuesday’s practice session at East Lake, Finau stood on the 10th tee at East Lake for 20 minutes past the appointed 1 p.m. tee time for a match with Bryson DeChambeau and Tiger Woods. When DeChambeau finally arrived, he informed Finau that Woods was still warming up on the range and that their start would be delayed at least another 15 minutes, which sent Finau back to the putting green.
A few more practice putts couldn’t hurt, of course. Finau has two big weeks ahead of him.