Tony Finau Outlasts Cameron Smith In The Northern Trust
Tuesday, August 24th, 2021
Tony Finau picked a great time for this first PGA Tour win in over five years, defeating Cameron Smith in the first playoff hole to win The Northern Trust on Monday evening and securing one of the top spots for the Tour Championship in two weeks.
The final round of this event at Liberty Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey was delayed until Monday due to Tropical Storm Henri blowing through the area on Sunday. It took a little while on Monday morning for the grounds crew to get the course into playing shape, but they were able to do so successfully.
Smith and the world’s No. 1 Jon Rahm was tied for the lead at -16 going into the final round. Erik Van Rooyen was at -15 while Finau and Justin Thomas started at -14.
Finau shot a six-under 65 to take the clubhouse lead at -20. On 18, Smith was also at -20 and Rahm was at -19. Smith was able to par the final hole to force a playoff, but Rahm recorded a bogey, so he had to settle for third place at -18.
When Finau and Smith replayed 18, Finau’s drive went right down the middle of the fairway, but Smith yanked his drive over a retaining wall and into the Hudson River. It was academic at that point, and you could see Finau visibly exhale a sigh of relief when he tapped in the par putt.
Since his only win on Tour at the Puerto Rican Open in 2016, he had finished in the runner-up spot eight times, including falling short in three playoffs. But he sealed the deal in a huge tournament, putting those past disappointments on the back burner.
“It’s more massive I think for just my sense of accomplishment,” Tony Finau said. “It’s hard losing… I’ve done it a couple of times this year. That made me more hungry. If it doesn’t discourage you, it makes you more hungry.”
What’s next for Tony Finau?
In addition to being atop the FedEx Cup standings, Finau also put himself into the No. 6 spots in the Ryder Cup standings with the win. Next week’s BMW Championship is the final event to qualify for the Ryder Cup, and Finau is now in a good position to be a captain’s pick for the U.S. team by Steve Stricker even if he falls out of the top six.
After this tournament, the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to next week’s event. Van Rooyen, Alex Noren, Harold Varner III, and Harry Higgs all jumped from below the 70th spot into qualifying positions due to strong showings here. Even though he missed the cut, 2021 PGA Champion Phil Mickelson was the final man to qualify, holding down the 70th spot in the standings.
Among the notables who are eliminated from the championship, the contention is Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Matt Fitzpatrick, Ian Poulter, and Brandt Snedeker.
Next week’s event is a no-cut event featuring the top 70, and the top 35 in the standings after the BMW Championship will advance to the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia in two weeks.
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