Rocket Mortgage Classic champion Tony Finau gives the trophy a kiss at Detroit Golf Club July 31.

Rocket Mortgage Classic champion Tony Finau gives the trophy a kiss at Detroit Golf Club July 31.

Photos provided by Ryan Bogar

Finau flourishes in final round at Rocket Mortgage Classic

PGA extends its roots in Detroit

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Metro | Published August 3, 2022

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DETROIT — After it was all said and done on Sunday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, both Tony Finau and the city of Detroit finished the weekend on top.

In the final round at the Detroit Golf Club July 31, Finau shot a 67 and set a course record with a 26-under-par score. The first-place finish secured back-to-back Professional Golf Association tournament wins for Finau after winning the 3M Open July 24.

Finau previously sat at No. 30 in the FedExCup standings, but he climbed to No. 7 after this impressive run.

“I think I’ve been quoted saying it many times before: a week can change your life,” Finau said. “I guess when you look at mine, … back-to-back weeks has now changed my life, and it’s a great feeling.”

Finau, who didn’t play in the tournament last year and who finished tied for 53rd, nine strokes under par, at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2020, entered Sunday tied for first with Canadian-born golfer Taylor Pendrith at 21-under, but birdies on the fourth and seventh holes by Finau slowly built a gap between first and second.

Patrick Cantlay, who entered Sunday six shots off the lead, set the tone early with four of his first five holes ending in birdies. With Cantlay trailing by only three shots, Finau hit a crucial par putt on the ninth hole to keep him at bay.

Finau said the momentum from the par putt carried over to the back nine.

“That was an easy two-shot swinger,” Finau said.

Finau’s birdie at the 14th hole not only cemented his win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but it also made this the first time in six attempts that Finau won after sharing or holding a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

Finau said his ability to keep a positive mindset has been the difference-maker.

“I put myself in situations to win, haven’t been able to do it, but I’m very optimistic,” Finau said. “I’ve always been that way; I’ve always had hope and faith that things will turn out if I just keep working hard and putting myself there.”

The win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic will in all likelihood solidify Finau’s spot on the United States Presidents Cup team that is set to compete in late September.

Cantlay finished tied for second with Cameron Young and Pendrith at 21-under.

While Finau dominated the tournament, Young and sponsor exemption Joohyung Kim both tied the Rocket Mortgage Classic course record with a round score of 63 (nine under par) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Kim, who made his Rocket Mortgage Classic debut, earned his highest PGA Tour placement with a seventh-place finish (18 under par) on Sunday.

With the finish, Kim likely will earn his PGA Tour card for the 2022-23 season.

“It means everything,” Kim said. “Every day I’ve played golf, I’ve thought about playing on the PGA Tour.”

Off the course, the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the city of Detroit presented a tournament that attendees of all ages would enjoy. 

The CDW Youth Golf Zone was a major success this year as young, future golfers were able to try their hands at swinging different toy clubs.

“This is awesome,” Kelly Ruprecht, mother of two, said. “This is what you come for.”

Ruprecht, from South Lyon, looked on as her son Brooks, 1, and daughter Avery, 4, tried their hands at golf. Avery was showing off her one-handed swing while having her left arm in a sling, but that didn’t stop her from almost hitting the target’s bull’s-eye.

Waterford natives and twins Liam and Lucas Flanigan, 23, attended their first-ever golf event on Sunday.

“It’s like going to a Red Wings game,” Lucas Flanigan said.

The brothers looked on at the 18th hole as Finau made the tournament-winning putt and cheered along with the rest of the gallery.

“It’s totally different when you’re actually here,” Liam Flannigan said.

Finau and Pendrith drew a massive following throughout the day with roaring cheers from fans after each birdie putt from Finau. 

AREA 313 Grove and Village continued to be a relaxing spot for fans with food and beverage tents, and Waste Management held a chipping competition for eager fans to take a chance at making a chip shot into the garbage bins.

The RMC was the place to be on Sunday.

In its drive to bridge the digital divide by 2025 in Detroit, the tournament raised $400,000 through AREA 313, in which Rocket Mortgage pledges $5,000 for an eagle on the 14th hole and a birdie on the 16th hole, and $10,000 for every hole-in-one on the 15th hole. The tournament has raised $5 million in its first three years for local charities.

“By all measures, the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic was a smashing success,” Rocket Mortgage Classic Executive Director Jason Langwell said in a prepared statement.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic will return June 26-July 2, 2023.