HOUSTON — Winning practice is coming hard for Tony Finau. It seems easy now.
After blowing a four-shot lead at the Houston Open on Sunday, Finau stretched his lead to eight on the back nine to claim his third PGA Tour victory of the year. He closed the tournament at 1-under 69 with three bogeys that only touched the margins and won by four.
Finnau won just once in his first 185 tournaments when he joined the PGA Tour. He now has four in the last 30 races, including three this calendar year.
“I’ve always had confidence, but when you win, confidence is contagious,” Finau said. “I’m starting to develop a complete game.”
It was displayed over four days at Memorial Park.
Finnau dominated the second round with a 62 before the change in weather and was superb with a bogey-free round of 68 in Saturday’s cold and windy conditions. No one came forward to arrest him on Sunday.
He finished at 16-under 264 and started the new season with a win — moving to 12th in the world ranking — after shaking off some rust from a missed cut at Mayacoba last week.
PGA Tour rookie Tyson Alexander won the B flight, and it was a big deal. Alexander made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 66 and a 66 to become the sole runner-up for the second time out of the tournament. That’s enough FedEx Cup points that should be a virtual lock to qualify for the postseason next summer.
“Good week for me,” Alexander said. “I wish Tony would take the week off.”
Ben Taylor missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 70 and tied for third.
Finau said he was uncomfortable with such a big lead at the start of the round and had doubts about how he would play.
Those didn’t last very long. He rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole, then quickly left the field.
Finau made a 7-foot birdie putt on the fifth, a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-5 eighth and a 20-foot birdie putt on the front nine.
That gave him an eight-shot lead, and from there it was just a matter of staying upright.
“It was one of those days where I fought and I fought and I did a lot of good things that calmed me down,” Finau said. “I’ve never been in this position, I had a lot of nerves. Overall, as the round went on, I felt good. I’m happy to get the ‘W’ today.”
He didn’t make bogey until the 10th hole and then dropped two more shots on the back nine with a bunker and a long three-putt. Even so, no one was closer than a four-shot margin at the end of the round.
Alex Noren shot a 68 and tied for fourth to move into the world No. 45. He needs to stay in the top 50 at the end of the year for any hope of a Masters invite.
Masters champion Scotty Scheffler closed with a 67 and tied for ninth. He needed a win to replace Rory McIlroy at world No.1.
McIlroy is playing in Dubai next week to end the European Tour season, while Scheffler will next play at the Hero World Championship in the Bahamas, a 20-man field that awards world-class points.