February 6, 2019
SHARON SHIN: Like to welcome in Tony Finau to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He's making his second start here and he had a T-23 finish back in 2017. If we could get some opening comments about your return to Pebble.
TONY FINAU: Yeah, it's great to be back. It's a golf tournament I remember I really enjoy and obviously a very iconic place like Pebble Beach. We played Monterey Peninsula and Spyglass as well. Just an iconic area. So it's really cool for me to be back and I'm excited to be back and tee it up this week.
SHARON SHIN: And this tournament is known for its special format and I heard you have some special guests playing with you this week.
TONY FINAU: Yeah. I'm teeing it up with a friend of mine, Shantanu Narayen, the CEO of Adobe. It's a partnership that has flourished these last, this past 12 months, and a partnership that's really cool. They have headquarters there right in Utah so it's kind of something that makes sense. And so I look forward to getting to know him a little bit better and play with him this week. I got a chance to play with a good friend of mine, Ryan Smith, yesterday, who is also playing this week as an amateur and he's also a friend. And his company, Qualtrics, is another partner of mine these past 12 months that has transpired. So it's been really fun just enjoying the company and playing with them. That's something that's very special about this tournament. You have the opportunity to meet a lot of great people. But I have an opportunity to get to know my partners a lot better playing with them and competing with them. And having them see what I do up close is something that's really cool as well.
SHARON SHIN: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. You have had I think three runners up in your last dozen or so starts. I'm just wondering, getting those opportunities and getting so close to getting back in the winner's circle, what have you taken from that, what have you kind of learned from that, and moving forward in trying to kind of get that second win on TOUR?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, I've had some nice finishes, for sure, and I've gained a lot of confidence and experience just these last really six months. The Ryder Cup was a big deal for me and to be able to hang around a lot of those guys. I look forward to the season. I think it's one that I carry a lot of momentum from last season. And although that's the case, it's a new season, it's a new start. And really this off season I've done a lot of, not a lot of golfing and a lot of just mental preparation, getting my mindset right and seeing what I can learn from, in some of those finishes to maybe win one. So that's what I'm going to try to do this season. And it's great just to be out and competing. I love playing golf and I can never not just enjoy being out and playing.
Q. Have you been able to pinpoint any kind of missing steps that you've been able to work on, or is there something, one or two things that you feel like has kind of kept you back there on Sunday?
TONY FINAU: No, not really. I haven't really pin pointed anything. I've gotten a lot better every year and in every part of my game. And if that trend continues then I know I'm going to win some golf tournaments. And that's all I can do is try and get better. And my coach and I have worked on a lot of great things over the past few seasons and the progress has been continuous. And in the process of getting better I've had many some nice results and that's all I'm trying to do is continue to get better. And I've done that these last few seasons. And if I continue to do that, then I know some wins will be on my resume this year.
Q. Two unrelated questions. First, you mentioned the Ryder Cup and the confidence. Any other examples of maybe how that shaped you or affected you or will help you? Any example of how you think that will help you in your career going forward?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, I think more so just hanging around the guys in my locker room, being around great champions of this game. It's given me the confidence to know that I belong in that room. And I played well on a big stage, which is another big key. I feel like any time you can do that it gives you confidence moving forward in your career. But I believe the Ryder Cup to be the most high pressure situation in golf and the biggest stage in golf. And as a team we didn't perform our best, but I can look back and say that I played some good golf and I carry some confidence moving on from that.
Q. You have a lot of friends and family members who are not necessarily golf insiders. Do they ask you often to explain the rules to them? And are the recent rules changes making it easier or harder for them to understand what you do?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, so luckily for me I don't have a lot of family and friends that know a lot about golf and we don't really talk about golf. So I haven't had that question or had the rules being brought up. But as a player I look at some of the rules and some of them are a little too sophisticated. I think there's too many rules in golf. And I mean that's easy to say for a player, but putting together a rule book is a tough thing in this game because there are so many different parts of the game. Some of the new rules I feel like don't really make a lot of sense. I feel like if it doesn't help the process of either speeding up play or help with the integrity of the game, then I don't think it makes sense to change.
Q. Can I ask a quick follow-up. Have you ever had anything close happen to you at what happened to Ricky on 11 on Sunday? And can you put yourself in his shoes and if you had seen that ball rolling in the water, just how would you have felt or reacted?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, well to me Ricky really showed his true colors the rest of that tournament. To be able to finish in the fashion that he did after something like basically something tragic in the middle of your tournament happens. He was leading the tournament by five shots, teeing it up on 11, and he was down one teeing it up on 13, two holes later. That's a tough pill to swallow for anybody. I feel like mentally I'm pretty strong when I play. And Ricky's very, the same way, and he showed his true colors. But as I watched that transpire, I couldn't help but think, this is not what the integrity of the game is about. He didn't do anything for that ball to move and if rules aren't going to protect the integrity of the game, then they're wrong. And that's, I'll always stand on that side just because I know, yeah, I've had things like that happen to me in junior golf, not at the professional level, but I've had things like that happen to me where you know you didn't cause or didn't, your intentions weren't bad in any way, but the ball moves and you have to call that on yourself. And I love that about the game. But if the rules don't protect the player and the integrity of the game then I don't think they're the right rules.
Q. Ho Sung Choi has got a lot of attention obviously this week for his swing being here for his PGA TOUR debut. Your thoughts on his swing, I mean does it help the game to have an attraction like him?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, I think it's great. I think it's unique, for sure. Nobody swings a golf club like that and I've never seen anybody move that way when they swing a golf club. So I think it's great. I think it's great for the game and obviously he's playing with Aaron Rodgers this week. I don't think that's his amateur, but he's in the same group with Aaron Rodgers. And I was just with Aaron this morning and he's excited to watch him play. I mean how is that not really cool for our game to have someone like him wanting to play with someone like Ho Sung Choi. So that's, I think he brings some excitement to this tournament. And as players it's really cool to see someone that that's different and that unique of a golf swing.
Q. You had some strong finishes in the Majors last year. I'm curious if you see the AT&T as kind of a tune-up for the U.S. Open this year.
TONY FINAU: No, not a tune-up. Every tournament, every tournament to me is a life-changing opportunity. Any given week on the PGA TOUR have you a chance to traject your career into something special every week. It doesn't matter what golf tournament it is or what tournament you win, any given week on the PGA TOUR, if you win a golf tournament, you have an opportunity to traject your career in a different, in an upward direction. So it's going to be nice to see the course in tournament conditions again. It's been a few years, but I enjoy this tournament whether the U.S. Open is going to be here or not.
Q. Curious, do you remember the circumstances of the first time you actually saw Pebble Beach and kind of what was your reaction and what was kind of going through your mind?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, it was really cool. It was very similar to my experience at Augusta. In just that when I finally got to play and an iconic place like Pebble Beach. I was 17 years old the first time I played here at Pebble. It was for the Pebble Beach invitational, that I think they still have. It's in the wintertime. But I played it as a 17-year-old and I'll never forget it. I was with my dad and my brother and my uncle and we walked around Pebble Beach. We were like kids, it was really special. And a very similar feeling to what I had at Augusta National when I first got to play there. But when you're here, it's an iconic place, it's kind of like a holy golf ground, if you will, and it's never not a thrill to play Pebble Beach.
Q. Been talking about the rules a little bit and curious your thoughts on the rule about caddies standing behind the player and wondering if you also are aware that the USGA just and the R & A just made a clarification of that rule this morning.
TONY FINAU: Yeah, no, I wasn't aware. I know what happened to Haotong Li and Denny McCarthy last week where, again, not up to the standard of the integrity of the game, just meaning I don't believe that the intentions were wrong from any of these players and if we're going to penalize guys for doing what they feel like is right and not intentionally breaking any rules, as a game, we have to be better than that, to not penalize these guys in that type of fashion and that type of manner.
Q. With this being your second start here, from a preparation standpoint, do you feel more confident and comfortable dealing with the three courses this time now that you have that under your belt?
TONY FINAU: Yeah, I do. We don't play a lot of tournaments where we have to deal with three different courses, but just with the one year of experience that I have playing here, I know what the type of preparation that needs to go into playing the event, to be prepared. I didn't feel like I was as prepared as I could have been in 2017, and so this time around I wanted to make sure I saw all three golf courses and did my homework like I should, like I do every other week and just prepare properly to give yourself the best chance to compete throughout the week and have a chance to win.
SHARON SHIN: Thank you for your time, Tony, good luck this week.
TONY FINAU: Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports