Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Reed deflects questions over Ryder Cup controversy

Schauffele was playing alongside Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton Schauffele was playing alongside Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton
Sergio Cook | 29 October, 2018, 17:16

Tony Finau is often associated with power, but in Round 1 of the WGC-HSBC Champions it was his putting touch - and perhaps some good fortune - that helped him get near the lead.

He parred the first before going on a weird run of six holes without a par, picking up birdies at the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th to go with dropped shots at the 3rd and 6th. Then at the par-5 18th, both players birdied, sending them back to 18 for the playoff.

That was a significantly better effort than Mcllroy, who was four over after two holes when he found water twice on the second on his way to a triple-bogey eight.

If Patrick Reed felt any concern after stirring Ryder Cup controversy, he showed no trace of it on Thursday in posting a superb eight-under-par 64 for the opening-round lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

But he let his game do the talking at par-72 Sheshan International Golf Course, rolling in lengthy putts for birdie on his second and third holes, and sticking an approach one foot from the pin for another birdie two holes later to ignite the scoring spree. "I think I'll stay in attack mode", he said.

Brooks Koepka, in his debut at No. 1 in the world, didn't deliver much excitement.

"That was about as bad a break as I've ever had, to kick all the way over the green into the hazard", Finau said.

That put him at 11-under 133, three shots clear of Reed (72), Tommy Fleetwood (68) and defending champion Justin Rose (67).

Finau's only victory was in 2016 at the Puerto Rico Open, an event held opposite the Match Play in Texas.

Reed, whose comments were chief among the recriminations in the United States camp after their 17.5 to 10.5 loss at Le Golf National, had alleged that Spieth refused to play with him. In his opening fourballs match with Brooks Koepka, the USA team looked to be in big trouble until Finau's tee shot on the 16th hole hit off the railroad ties framing the green and settled 3 feet away, crucial to winning the match.

He is joined on the score by Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy. Not only did he hit a flawless tee shot into short range on the 17th, he got away with a poor tee shot into a bunker on the 18th and a shot that left him a lot farther from the green than he wanted.

Finau kept motoring along, as he has been doing the last few months.

Now the 19-year-old is not only playing on the weekend for the first time on the PGA Tour, he's in contention. He had 11 top 10s last season.

If Xiong, who turns 20 on November 9, triumphs Sunday, he would become only the second teenager to win on the PGA Tour since 1931.

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