Finau Captures First PGA Tour Win at Puerto Rico Open
Hitting the ball longer and straighter than anybody in the field, Tony Finau captured the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday for his first PGA tour title. Finau defeated journeyman Steve Marino on the third hole of a sudden death playoff at the Coco Beach Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
Finau and Merino both finished 72 holes in 12 under par. Rodolfo Cazaubon finished in a tie for 3rd with Englishman Ian Poulter at 11 under par. Andres Romero, Nick Taylor and Scott Brown finished in a three-way tie for 5th place two-shots back at 10 under.
The 26-year old from Salt Lake City put together rounds of 69, 70, 67 and 70. For the week, Finau hit 72% of the fairways and averaged 302 yards off the tee – an effective combination that left him plenty of good birdie opportunities. Finau has never been considered a great putter, and he wasn’t among the statistical leaders for this tournament. He did, however, take advantage of enough of the opportunities that he gave himself and managed to win the tournament. This is a formula that Finau will attempt to replicate in the years ahead.
The Puerto Rico Open is played opposite the WGC Dell Matchplay. While detractors will point out that the quality of the field was compromised by the WGC event, a win is a win. There were plenty of quality golfers in the field, including European Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter, former world number one Luke Donald and other solid professionals including Aaron Badley, Alex Cejka, Freddie Jacobson, Ricky Barnes and Bryce Molder.
While the win did not qualify Finau for the upcoming Masters, it was worth $540,000 and 300 FedEx Cup points. Those dollars and points certainly solidify Finau’s status on the PGA Tour. Finau turned down college scholarship offers in basketball and turned professional at 17-years old. He made quick work on the mini-tours, the Canadian PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour, earning a full-time tour card for the 2014-15 season. Last year, Finau played in just two of the majors. He made the most of his chances by tying for 14th at the U.S. Open and 10th at the PGA Championship.
Finau first gained renown as a cast member of the Golf Channel’s The Big Break. He finished second in Big Break: Disney in 2009. Finau more than doubled his FedEx Cup point total from 249 to 549. He vaulted to 25th in the FedEx Cup point standings. Confidence is obviously a huge asset for a young touring professional and nothing builds confidence like winning. Look for Finau to build on this win as he continues his sophomore campaign on golf’s richest tour.