Tony Finau is standing behind the tee box on the 17th hole at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, a 550-yard par-4. Twenty-six drives, out of the thousands hit during the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, went 400 yards or farther. Four have gone that distance so far during the 2020-21 campaign. During a practice round for this week’s Tournament of Champions, Finau is going to hit the mark, too.
“Hey, guys, I’m at Kapalua this week, excited to be here for the Tournament of Champions. I’m on hole 17, a 550-yard par-4, and I’m going to show you how to hit a 400-yard drive,” Finau said.
Finau walks to the tee box. He wags his driver. He looks up six times.
Apparently, on this day, 400 is easier done than said.
Staff picks: The best from NikeShop Now
“Pffft, anybody can hit it 400 here, man,” his caddie, Mark Urbanek, says on the video posted to Finau’s Instagram page. “It’s 80 yards downhill, and it’s blowing 40 straight down, bro.”
“Bro, just be quiet and film,” Finau responds.
Finau takes a near full swing, hits his ball and takes a long step forward with his right foot on the follow-through as he cocks the club forward. He turns back and laughs at Urbanek, who is filming.
Last year, behind those slopes and winds, three of the season’s longest drives were hit — Lanto Griffin’s 429-yarder (tied for the fourth-longest), Jon Rahm’s 415-yarder (eighth-longest) and Cameron Champ’s 413-yarder (ninth). Which could all be in reach for Finau, in the Champions field for the first time since 2017, and second time overall.
One week before the Memorial, in July, Finau went full Finau swing on a drive, and the ball went 383 yards, with a ball speed of 206 mph. Finau said it was around that time that he and his coach, Boyd Summerhays, decided to let loose.
“My coach, Boyd Summerhays, and I decided to crank some up a little bit after being inspired by Bryson [DeChambeau], seeing how straight he was hitting it and how hard, and so I decided to crank it up and work on hitting a really hard fade,” Finau said at the Memorial. “I’ve let a few go so far this week, and it’s been pretty fun for me to kind of reach back more so than I have in the past and kind of open up and hit some.”
Then, at the PGA Championship a few weeks later, a few players were asked who the longest player on Tour was. Champ said it was Finau.
Finau also said Finau. He was being truthful, not boastful.
“I think if we were all to maybe tee up four or five golf balls on the range and just let loose, I have a hard time believing somebody is going to hit it further than I am,” he said. “Just because I’ve always kind of had that speed. When I was younger, I got up to about 212 ball speed with a standard driver, which is pretty fast. I don’t know if I quite have that, but I got up to 206 there about a month ago, and that was only just trying for a day.
“I’ve got it in the tank, but I don’t really know where it’s going, so I don’t use it on the golf course.”