Utah native Tony Finau wins Puerto Rico Open in playoff for 1st PGA title
Willie J. Allen, Jr., AP
Tony Finau took another large step in his golf career by winning the Puerto Rico Open Sunday afternoon at the Cocoa Beach Golf & CC — his first victory on the PGA Tour.
The Salt Lake native took home $540,000 by defeating 35-year-old Steve Marino, who has won more than $9 million on the PGA Tour in nine years on the PGA Tour, on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. With the victory, Finau earns a two-year exemption to the PGA Tour and picked up 300 FedEx Cup points.
"I think I'm still a little bit overwhelmed," Finau said afterward. "It probably hasn't all sunk in."
Even though the Puerto Rico Open is an official PGA Tour event, the win won’t give Finau an automatic exemption to The Masters. That’s because the tournament was against the Dell Match Play Tournament in Austin, Texas, where the top PGA Tour golfers competed this week with Jason Day winning the title.
Both Finau and Marino had tied at 12-under par, a stroke ahead of England’s Ian Poulter, a former top-10 player in the world, who tied for third place, one stroke behind. After each birdied the par-5 18th twice in the playoff, Finau prevailed on the third hole, getting up and down from a greenside bunker, while Marino three-putted from 35 from the fringe.
"I tried to just stay in the moment really," Finau said. "That's what I learned from last year. You can never look too far ahead and you can't look back either. You've got to focus on the here and now."
Finau had a chance to win in regulation after Marino sank an 8-foot birdie putt. However, his 6-foot birdie try slipped past the hole.
“I did a really good job of that today even though that putt slipped by in regulation for the win," Finau said. "I knew I still didn't lose the tournament. I needed to refocus and get ready to play 18 again. That's what it takes out here I feel like to win. And now that I have that feeling, it's pretty special."
Finau, in his second full season on the PGA Tour, more than doubled his season earnings with the win to $972,791 for the season. Last year as a rookie, he earned $2,095,186. The 300 FedEx points he earned with the victory moved him up to No. 24 in the FedEx Cup standings.