After 143 starts, 40 top-10’s, and 1,975 days since his last victory, Tony Finau claimed his second PGA Tour title at the Northern Trust.
Tony Finau Wins First PGA Tour Title In 1,975 Days
We had already seen plenty of drama at Liberty National, with the final day of the event having to be moved to a Monday finish due to Storm Henri.
Despite there being no spectators present, fans at home were treated to a tense and thrilling final round which saw Tony Finau claim his first title since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.
The 31-year-old wouldn’t make it easy though, having to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker for par at the 72nd hole to get into a playoff, before defeating Cameron Smith with a par at the first playoff hole.
“The win means everything at this point, especially in my career. There’s been a lot of work going on since the last win. I’m a completely different player and I wanted to prove this to myself more than anything else, that I can win a big golf tournament.
“We’ve got the best players in the world here and I was against the best player in the world today and I got him. Jon (Rahm) is a good friend who I knew was going to be really really hard to beat. Him and Cam were playing great and I gave it everything I had and fortunately, this time, I ended up on top.”
As a result of his victory, the American secures 2,000 FedEx Cup points and now moves to number one in the standings.
Finau had started the final round two shots back of Rahm and Smith, who shot a course record 60 on Saturday.
With two consecutive birdies at the 3rd and 4th, Finau would actually overtake Smith, with the Aussie producing a very scrappy double bogey at the par-4 5th to lose his lead.
However, an untidy finish to the front nine for both men would see world number one, Rahm, take the lead by two, as the players headed into the back.
But Finau would close that gap to one, with a stunning approach shot at the par-5 13th setting up a tap-in eagle, and although Rahm would birdie the same hole himself to extend the lead back to two, Finau drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the 14th to keep the pressure on the Spaniard.
That pressure began to take its toll, with Rahm bogeying the 15th to drop back, but soon Finau had company at the top of the leaderboard from Smith, who, despite a poor front nine, was cruising on the back.
Back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th quickly put him in a tie with the American, who was facing a long wait on the 18th tee.
Despite the delay, Finau would crush his drive down the centre of the fairway, but, as has been the case over the last five years, we weren’t done there, with the 31-year-old’s approach going right and finding the greenside bunker.
Finau wasn’t about to let this tournament slip though, splashing out of the sand to six-feet and calmly rolling in the par putt to set the clubhouse target at 20-under-par.
Playing the last, Smith managed to leave himself a putt to grasp the title from Finau’s hands, but his lengthy birdie attempt would come up just shy meaning, yet again, we were off to a playoff.
Teeing off first, Finau produced a near carbon copy of his previous tee shot, pulverising his drive some 300+ yards down the fairway.
Smith, who had a perfect 100% win rate in PGA Tour playoffs, couldn’t cope, with the Aussie’s drive going so far right that it actually ended up out of bounds.
As Smith’s provisional ended up in the fairway bunker, all Finau had to do was safely find the green from a near 200-yards.
Standing over the ball, Finau would, with his second landing perfectly on the green and only 30-feet or so from the flag.
Knocking his first putt to near gimme range, he eventually rolled in the par putt for his first win in five years.
“I think the biggest thing for me is that I was missing a big win, and I think this will make most of them (doubters) be quiet for a little bit. I’ve been close and played really nicely.
“There’s been a few playoff loses, but I wasn’t going to let one happen this time. I feel this golf tournament lasted about a week, but it’s just nice to win and I’m so happy!”
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