Tony Finau simply kept it on cruise control since no one really challenged him
The 33-year-old Finau had a few hiccups on the back nine but closed with a 1-under-par 69 to claim a four-stroke victory over rookie Tyson Alexander in the 75th Cadence Bank Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas.
“I’ve always had belief, but confidence when you win is contagious,” said Finau, who claimed the fifth PGA Tour victory of his career and the third of 2022. “I’m starting to put together a full-package game.
“It was one of those days when I fought and fought, and I made a lot of nice putts that calmed me. I’ve never been in this position. I had a lot of nerves. Overall, as the round went on, I felt better. I was happy to get the `W’ today.
“When you’re in a position to win a tournament, you want to know what you’ve got to do. It was different nerves and I’ve never been in that position before where I was that far in front. I mean, I could get used to that, that’s a nice feeling to have. But I tried to just stay present and know that there’s still a lot of golf to be played, and I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”
Finau, who won the Rocket Mortgage Classic and 3M Open back-to-back in July, took a four-stroke lead into the final round and padded that to eight shots at one stage, making four birdies on the front nine. His three bogeys coming home didn’t mean a thing as he finished at 16-under 264.
Finau led since shooting 62 in the second round.
Alexander sank a 33-foot birdie putt on the last hole to claim solo second with a 66, carding five birdies along with a single bogey.
“It was a great week for me,” said Alexander, who has five professional victories on lower tours. “I wish Tony would have taken the week off, but yeah, you know, 132 players, I think one guy’s going to beat me, so that’s what it’s all about, just trying to beat as many people as possible.
“I can compete. I’ve said this before, but my good is good. I need to do a better job of showing up maybe more often, being a little more consistent, but I was pretty calm out there. I felt like I had my good stuff, and I can compete and try to win golf tournaments out here.
“I just have to be more meticulous in my preparation.”
Ben Taylor of England, who won the 2018 Club Colombia Championship on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour and helped LSU captured the 2015 NCAA Championship, started with 10 consecutive pars and was five shots back in solo third.
Alex Smalley chipped in for 37 feet for an eagle on the eighth hole en route to a 67 and finished eight behind in a tie for fourth with Trey Mullinax, who had three straight birdies on the front nine in another 67, and Alex Noren, who had five birdies and two bogeys in a 68.
Adam Hadwin of Canada made a single bogey against three birdies in his 68 and wound nine down in a tie for seventh Aaron Rai of England, who had two birdies on each nine in a 69.
Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler, who could have regained the No. 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland by finishing first or second either of the last two weeks, had three birdies on each nine in a 67 and wound up 10 strokes back in a tie for big ninth with Stephan Jaeger of Germany; who shot 67, Keith Mitchell, who wound up at 68; Joseph Bramlett of Palo Alto and Stanford, who had a 69; Joel Dahmen, who made two late birdies in a 71; 2019 U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, who finished at 71, and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England, who birdied the last hole to salvage a 72.
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