Mar 28th, 2016
Tony Finau wins the Puerto Rico Open
Ian Poulter finishes tied third
Words: John Dean Photography: Getty Images
Tony Finau got onto our radar last year, and we thought he was a proper GolfPunk. Today was his maiden victory on the PGA Tour, when he won the Puerto Rico Open in a playoff against old hand Steve Marino.
Finau, 26, birdied the par–5 No. 18 three times in succession in the playoff, having missed a 6–foot birdie attempt in regulation to secure outright victory.
"It was a putt that I kind of dreamed of making my whole life … so I was a little bit bummed," Finau said.
He had to quickly get back his focus for the playoff: "I knew I still didn't lose the tournament," he said. "I needed to refocus and get ready to play 18 again. That's what it takes out here … to win. And now that I have that feeling, it's pretty special."
As the Puerto Rico Open is staged the same weekend as a World Golf Championships event, the winner does not earn the usual number of FedEx Cup points or a Masters invitation.
The victory is still worth $540,000, plus 300 FedEx points, and comes with a two-year exemption PGA Tour exemption, so it was a very valuable victory in more ways than one.
In honor of his mother, Vena, who died in 2011, Finau likes to wear green shirts in Sunday rounds, which was her favourite colour. But he’s not been making cuts recently, and has missed the last four in a row.
But he’s turning things around, getting used to his new Nike equipment after signing with them in January.
"Most players' confidence would have been shaken with the last few months of results, but he is very resilient and confident in himself and his abilities," Boyd Summerhays, Finau's coach, wrote in a text message to The (Utah) Tribune. "He continued to trust in the technical and equipment changes he was going through and stayed patient throughout that process."
His three successive birdies on the 18th at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club, were all down to his fine short game. And it was a bunker shot to three feet which got him finally over the line.
"Very impressive how he gutted it out in the playoff," said fellow tour pro Zac Blair. "Some awesome, super-clutch up and downs."
It was ultimately a frustrating final day for Ian Poulter. He finished tied third with Mexican Rodolfo Cazuabon, after shooting a level par 72 which left him a single shot behind the leaders.