Tony Finau didn’t make it easy on himself, yet still claimed his third PGA Tour victory.
The 32-year-old Finau hit terrible tee shots on the last two holes, but managed to shoot four-under-par 67 and win the 3M Open by three strokes over Emiliano Grillo of Argentina and Sungjae Im of South Korea at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.
“I was behind by five strokes so I was chasing all day, but then I got to No. 17 and saw that I was ahead, so admittedly I got a little nervous and hot some squirrelly shots, but I called bank on 17 and was able to get it done,” joked Finau, who also won the 2016 Puerto Rico Open and the 2021 Northern Trust. “I expected myself to contend and win again this year, so to be able to do it this late in the season when you’re running out of tournaments and you put that type of expectation on yourself, it’s so satisfying.
“That’s the great thing about our sport. I’ve been on that side of it where you take your hat off and you just congratulate the guy who gets the job done because it takes a lot. It’s tough to win out here. I mean, I think I’m about as good an example as any of how tough it is to seal the deal. Anytime you win one, it’s awesome to get the respect of the guys who you’re playing against.
“I read something (early in the week) that I was favored to win, and for some reason, that just like all of a sudden put some added expectation and pressure on myself. I knew I was playing well, but then it was like, ‘Oh, well, this is a crazy situation because if you win, everybody expected it. If you don’t win, well, he can’t win, right?”
Finau, who has finished second 10 times in his PGA Tour career and started the final round five strokes behind, birdied two of the first three holes and after a bogey at No. 9, took control with four birdies on the back nine including three in a row through No. 15 and posted a 72 hole score of 17-under 267. He sank a 32-foot birdie putt the cap his run on the 15th hole.
However, Finau had a shaky finish when he hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th hole off a grandstand and nearly into the water before chipping close to save par, and then drove into the water on the final hole and closed with a bogey that was good enough.
Im, who captured his second PGA Tour victory earlier this season in the Shriners Children’s Open, closed with a bogey-free 68, while Grillo, whose only PGA Tour title came in the 2016 Fry’s.com Open, had five birdies plus a triple-bogey 7 on the seventh hole in a 71.
Scott Piercy, who held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds and was five shots ahead after eight holes in the final round, made a triple-bogey 7 on the 14th hole and five bogeys in a 76 and wound up four down in a tie for fourth with James Hahn of Alameda and Cal, who holed out from 69 yards for an eagle at No. 12 and added five birdies in a 65, and Tom Hoge, who wound up at 70.
“Obviously, Scott made a horrible hole there and gave everybody a chance,” said Grillo, who tied for second recently in the John Deere Classic and has been a runner-up five times since his only PGA Tour victory six years ago. “But then, just Tony pressed really hard on the gas, and he just made it very hard for everybody.”
Piercy hit his drive into a fairway bunker on No. 14, took two shots to get out and hit his fourth into the water and left his putt for double bogey short to lose control of the tournament. This was the fourth time in six tries that Piercy held or shared the three-round lead and failed to win the tournament.
Danny Willett of England, the 2016 Masters champion, started at No. 10 and birdied four of his first five holes en route to a 68 and wound up seven shots behind in a tie for seventh with Callem Tarren, also of England, who shot 69, and Greyson Sigg, who birdied the last hole for a 72, while Chesson Hadley was one more back in solo 10th after a 72.
Defending champion Cameron Champ of Sacramento, who bounced back from an opening 75, finished with a second straight 67 to tie for 17th, 2019 3M Open champion Michael Thompson tied for 26th after a 70, and former world No. 1 Jason Day of Australia posted a third straight 72 to tie for 64th.
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