Golf News: Tony Finau wins The Northern Trust after making an eagle and three birdies down the stretch to finish his five-year hunt for a second PGA Tour championship, defeating Cameron Smith in a playoff.
For the second time on the PGA Tour, Tony Finau has won after defeating Cameron Smith in a playoff on the rain-delayed final day of The Northern Trust.
Finau has competed in 142 tournaments since his breakthrough victory in Puerto Rico five years ago, finishing 10th ten times, three of them in extra holes.
But he won in New Jersey owing to a strong back nine and a helping hand from Smith, who sliced his shot out of bounds on the first extra hole while Finau was already in the middle of the fairway.
With Smith still setting up his fifth shot from the fairway, a superb six-iron to 20 feet placed the outcome beyond any doubt, and a two-putt par was enough to win the first of this season’s three FedExCup playoff events.
Finau’s chances of winning looked bleak midway through the final round at Liberty National when he was three shots behind Jon Rahm after going one under par through 11 holes.
However, a birdie at the 12th was followed by a remarkable second to three feet at the long 13th, which Finau knocked in for eagle, and he added a bonus shot on the next green when he holed from 30 feet for a birdie-two.
Despite Finau’s efforts, Rahm remained the overwhelming favourite as he followed an outward 34 with birdies at the 12th and 13th to reach 20 under par. However, the Spaniard’s drive at 15 ended him in a fairway bunker, and he was unable to reach the green in two.
Rahm then bladed a pitch 30 feet past the flag at the risk-reward 16th, where Smith got his third birdie of the back-nine as he continued to fight back into contention following a terrible start.
Smith struggled with his driver from the start, pulling one 40 yards left of his goal and into the water on the sixth, resulting in a double-bogey six.
But the young Australian, who had a 59 on Saturday afternoon after missing a 12-foot putt, began his comeback with a birdie at the eighth and appeared to have fixed his troubles with the big stick as he kept up with Finau.
Finau finished on 20 under par after holing a crucial six-footer to complete a beautiful up-and-down from the sand at 18 for a 65, and with Rahm struggling down the stretch, Smith loomed as the guy most likely to deny Finau once more.
Smith drew level with a nerveless seven-footer for birdie at the 17th, and he had a chance to win in regulation until he missed a 25-foot putt and had to settle for a 67 before rejoining Finau on the 18th tee.
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