Tony Finau boosted by putting, not driving, on way to Mayakoba contention

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Fred Funk, Brian Gay, Mark Wilson, Graeme McDowell, Brendon Todd and ... Tony Finau?

The list of past champions suggests shorter hitters thrive at the Mayakoba Classic, and the big-bopping Finau knows he needs to straighten out his tee shots if he wants to capture his second PGA Tour title on Sunday.

On a penal course that requires accuracy and not necessarily power, Finau has scrambled and putted well on his way into the mix at El Camaleon Golf Club.

Through two rounds he has found only 53% of the fairways (often lined on both sides with trouble) and just 61% of the greens – poor numbers for a player who prides himself on his ball-striking. But Finau, who has a new putter in the bag, had six consecutive one-putt greens Friday and is tied for third in the field in putts per green in regulation.

Mayakoba Golf Classic: Full-field scores | Full coverage

“I’ve got to take care of it off the tee and hit the fairways," he said, "and I think if I do that, my numbers will start to go up.”

Finau shot 66 on a calmer morning in Mexico and sits at 9-under 133, tied for second place with Tom Hoge. They trail Emiliano Grillo by four strokes. Grillo finished off an 8-under 63 on Friday just as play was suspended because of darkness.

Finau T-2 in Mayakoba: What does he need to do for win No. 2?

In a groove heading into the fall, Finau’s schedule was upended after he tested positive for COVID-19. He hasn’t been quite as sharp over his past few starts, including a tie for 38th at the Masters, but he said he and coach Boyd Summerhays have put in a lot of good work and was excited about closing out 2020 on a high note.

“I feel good, confident,” he said. “My game feels good. My body feels good. Anytime I’m putting it nicely, I think that’s always a great feeling. You have to putt it well to win, and I know that I’ve definitely had my fair share of putts go in so far.”

Ranked 19th in the world, Finau’s lone PGA Tour title remains the opposite-field event in Puerto Rico in 2016. He has nine top-3 finishes on Tour.

“I learned this game doesn’t owe you anything – you’ve got to earn everything you have, earn all your wins,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming I feel like for No. 2. Hopefully it happens here in a couple days.”