We mentioned in our preview that this is when Tony Finau started to get hot last year and to not be surprised if it happened again.
It happened again.
Finau started the final round of the Mexico Open 2023 at Vidanta Sunday with a two-shot lead over huge favorite (+275 to start the tournament) Jon Rahm, and the American came out strong with several birdies in the front nine to win by three strokes over the reigning Masters champion.
Very happy with the four rounds I was able to put together. And I knew today was going to be a tall task going against [Rahm] with the form that he’s in. I was really put to the test and came out on top, which feels great,” said Finau, who finished at 24-under 260 following a bogey-free 66 on Sunday. “Rahmbo is the best. I knew I was going to have my hands full to the end.”
It’s Finau’s first win of the calendar year but second in the 2022-23 PGA Tour season after winning the Houston Open last fall. Along with two wins last summer, it adds up to four titles in Finau’s last 18 starts—a run that began with a runner-up finish to Rahm in this event a year ago.
It’s a far cry from the golfer who went from 2016 to ’21 between wins No. 1 and 2. Now he owns six on tour.
“You never get comfortable with the lead,” Finau explained. “That’s my nature anyway is to be an aggressive player. I always have been that way and so Sundays are starting to shape up better for me since I’ve been in contention, but I think I just have learned a lot.”
Rahm had a solid tournament but failed to defend his title by one spot on the leaderboard. He wasn’t able to make a move on the par 5s on the back nine after early shots didn’t give him good birdie opportunities.
“It was a day where I didn’t do much wrong, but I didn’t do much right, either,” he said after shooting a 67 to finish at -21. “Tony came out with a two-shot lead and played fantastic golf. I feel like had I been able to pressure him a little more, we would have seen more birdies from Tony.”
Besides a flip-flop of No. 1 and 2 from last year’s leaderboard, Brandon Wu—who was tied with Finau for second place last year—moved up a spot to third with a 68 on Sunday. He was briefly tied for the lead before falling back a bit on the back nine.
“Just a few too many loose swings,” said Wu, who finished at 20-under par. “Satisfied with how I went today. I’m glad I gave myself a chance through nine holes.”
Akshay Bhatia, 21, started the day tied with John Rahm for second and ended up finishing solo fourth. That finish, coming after a runner-up at the Puerto Rico Open in March, puts the Special Temporary Member in decent standing for a full PGA Tour card in 2024.
There was a three-way tie for fifth place among Eric Cole, Emiliano Grillo, and Austin Smotherman.
The Wells Fargo Championship, another Designated Event with a $20 million purse, is next on the schedule. The tournament returns to Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., after skipping the course last year while it readied for the Presidents Cup. Max Homa won last year’s event at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm but also owns a win at Quail Hollow as well. Rory McIlroy will return for this event, but Rahm and Scottie Scheffler are picking this Designated Event to skip to get ready for the PGA Championship later this month.
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