For a long time, Tony Finau's critics liked to talk about how often Finau put himself in position to win a golf tournament but didn't wind up holding the trophy on Sunday.
Finau took those questions and critiques in stride, and that's in part because he recognized what others weren't seeing: He was improving as a player and a tournament golfer, but the results just weren't there yet. Knowing himself that he was getting better was enough encouragement to help him get where is now: a top-12 player in the world.
"I just know that as I was going through it I felt like I was getting better. That was the crazy part was I felt like I was getting better," he said ahead of The American Express in January.
"I think it was easy to get frustrated because I kept falling short. I would get right to the finish line and lose in playoffs. I lost in a handful of playoffs through those years. Countless other one-shot, two-shot losses."
Finau understood why his critics saw things the way they did. They could only really measure Finau based on his results. Yet that didn't hurt his self-belief.
"I can see on the outside looking in how easy it was to see that this guy can't close," he said. "I felt like I was getting better and that's all I can ask of myself. I just knew it was going to happen. It never crossed my mind that I wasn't going to win again. It was just that when it did I had full faith that it was going to happen and then it was going to continue to happen.
"So that's kind of where I'm at now, where I'm kind of reaping that, the benefits of just believing in myself and hopefully I just continue the good play."
Now that he's a five-time PGA Tour winner, Finau has taken a lot from those successful experiences, making him an even better player.
"I think winning breeds confidence," he said. "There's no question. I feel that for the most part I've always been a pretty confident person. But winning breeds more confidence, I think.
"I think I just feel more comfortable with my game. My game's as good as it's been in my career. I think that's always the goal for me every year I play is to just try and get better. I feel like as a player I've gotten better through years. I definitely feel better approaching this year than I did last year."