July 23, 2020 / 6:36 PM / 14 days ago

Golf-Finau grabs share of early clubhouse lead in Minnesota

July 23 (Reuters) - Tony Finau used a stellar back nine to grab a share of the early first-round clubhouse lead at the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota on Thursday.

Finau, who came eighth at the Memorial Tournament last week in his best finish since the PGA Tour returned from a three-month COVID-19 hiatus, carded seven birdies at the TPC Twin Cities en route to a six-under-par 65 that was matched by Ryan Moore and China’s Xinjun Zhang.

Kyle Stanley, Talor Gooch and Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge, who bogeyed two of his final three holes, were in the clubhouse one shot off the pace.

Finau, who started on the back nine, reached the turn at two under before warming up with five birdies over an eight-hole stretch where his only blemish was a bogey at the par-four seventh.

“I got into a good rhythm out there,” said Finau, who hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation.

“The golf course is definitely gettable if you hit it in the fairway. The greens are just the right moisture where they’re not going to spin a lot or bounce over, so you’re kind of just hitting your number and the ball’s staying around that position.”

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who completed his quarantine after arriving in the United States two weeks ago, made double-bogey at his closing hole for an even-par 71 in his first start since The Players Championship was cancelled in March.

World number four Dustin Johnson (78), fresh off a missed cut last week, was one under through six holes until his round came apart over a dismal three-hole stretch where he went bogey, double-bogey and quadruple-bogey.

“I feel like I’m driving it well, but the iron play, first six or seven holes hit it close and then the rest of the day kind of struggled a little bit with iron play,” said Johnson.

Defending champion Matthew Wolff went out in the afternoon and was even par after two holes. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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