Pendrith takes a one-shot lead over Finau at Rocket Mortgage
Taylor Pendrith grew up taking breaks from golf, putting clubs away every winter in Canada.
It may have helped him when he had to miss nearly four months of competition due to a painful injury earlier this year.
Pendrith shot a 7-under 65 on Friday to take a one-shot lead over Tony Finau into the weekend in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Pendrith and Finau shared the first round lead at 8 under and will be in the final group on Saturday, pairing a 31-year-old PGA Tour rookie with a 32-year-old veteran who is coming off his third career victory.
Pendrith is playing his third tournament after being unable to swing a club for 12 weeks due to a broken rib, a break that reminded him of his youth.
“We have a long off-season in Canada, so I haven’t touched a club all winter growing up, so I guess I’m sort of used to it,” he said.
Pendrith said he can compete with the best when healthy and has shown it so far at Detroit Golf Club.
No one, however, has been better than Finau lately.
The Salt Lake City native with Tongan-Samoan heritage has 32 under over his last 107 holes, including rallying from a five-stroke deficit last Sunday at Minnesota to win the 3M Open by three strokes.
Pendrith tried to retire in the second round in Detroit, opening with four straight birdies and six in his first 10 holes. He had two birdies and a bogey over the last five holes to finish alone first on Friday.
Finau, meanwhile, started slow with just one birdie on the front nine before carding five birdies on the back. He has a chance to be the first PGA Tour player to win back-to-back regular season tournaments since Brendon Todd in 2019.
“Every time you win, you generate confidence,” Finau said. “I was just happy to hold onto that confidence from last week until this week.”
Pendrith and Finau had a little cushion.
Rookie Lee Hodges (66) was three strokes behind.
PGA Tour rookie of the year Cameron Young tied a Detroit Golf Club record with a 63 for a share of fourth place — five strokes back — with Russell Henley (65) and Stewart Cink (66).
Rookie Sahith Theegala (67) was another throwback in a field that includes defending FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, who rebounded from a first-round 70 with a 65.
Davis Love III, the 58-year-old USA Presidents Cup captain, was in Detroit partly to play and, more importantly, to get to know the players on and off the course who could represent the country. in September at the Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina. .
Love missed the cut at 5 of 149, but took the opportunity to dine with President Cup contenders and play two rounds with Young and Will Zalatoris.
Young and Zalatoris, teammates at Wake Forest and close friends, could be paired up again in two months.
“If they’re on the team, they’re a natural,” Love said.
Zalatoris, No. 13 in the world rankings, may have felt pressure playing with Love as he barely made the cut. He had to birdie his 36th hole to get to 3 under, the cut line, with a dull pair of rounds.
If Young doesn’t earn an automatic spot on Team USA, he could be the captain’s choice.
“Cameron is on the rise,” Love said. “Go back to Jordan Spieth. No one has heard of him and the next thing you know in a year he’s on the Presidents Cup team, and Cam is headed in that direction as well. Nobody ever heard of him on the Korn Ferry and here he is, he almost won a major.
Young finished second at the British Open and in the PGA Championship, he missed a playoff by one stroke. He has four second places, finished third in two tournaments. And in Detroit, Young showed Love up close what he can do.
“I hope I made some kind of case,” he said.
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