Skip to main content

2023 Mexico Open leaderboard, grades: Tony Finau outlasts world No. 1 Jon Rahm for victory at Vidanta

“Confidence when you win is contagious,” said Tony Finau after winning the 2022 Houston Open for his fifth career title on the PGA Tour. At the 2023 Mexico Open on Sunday, Finau’s confidence was on full display as he outmanned and outgunned the hottest player in the world, Jon Rahm, en route to his sixth victory and fourth in his last 18 starts with a 24-under performance.

Beginning the day with a two-stroke lead over his good friend and playing partner most off weeks in Scottsdale, Arizona, Finau squashed the thought of any potential duel from the very start. A birdie on the opener saw Finau expand his lead to three before three casual pars on the next three.

Up ahead in the penultimate group, Brandon Wu would make his presence known. Carding three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes, the 26-year-old momentarily caught Finau at 21 under. However, that would be as close Wu would get as mistakes piled up while Finau’s quality began to persist.

A birdie on the par-3 5th was followed by a nifty par save on the 6th, a crucial birdie on No. 7 and an even more critical par on the 8th. Finau turned in 3 under, and not only regained the lead but grew his margin as a three-stroke edge was in his hands despite Rahm, Wu and Akshay Bhatia all throwing their fair share of punches.

Unfortunately for the chasing pack, none of them would land and no noticeable unease would imprint on the leader.

The final nine from Finau was a masterclass on how to play with a large lead. Laying up short of trouble, converting birdie opportunities when presented and slowly draining the life out of the tournament and his fellow competitors, the 33-year-old’s inward half 34 meant a final round 66 and a three-stroke victory.

This all — staring the world No. 1 square in the eyes and sneakily becoming one of the most prominent winners on Tour – probably doesn’t materialize for Finau if this tournament was just three years in the past. Enduring a five-year winless drought over 142 tournaments, Finau has now won five times since his victory in the 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs at the Northern Trust just 41 starts ago.

“On Sunday out here I’ve learned that you just have to be aggressive, you have to make birdies,” said Finau. “Guys are going to make birdies. There’s so many great players, especially someone of Rahmbo’s stature … So my mindset on Sundays I think has just changed. You never get comfortable with the lead. That’s my nature, anyway, is to be an aggressive player. I always have been that way, and so Sundays are starting to shape up better for me since I’ve been in contention, but I think I just have learned a lot.”

With this win, Finau becomes the fourth player on the PGA Tour to claim multiple victories on the season joining Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Max Homa. Rarely is he discussed in such company as he has yet to win an upper echelon event such as the Genesis Invitational let alone a major championship.

However, just like Finau’s former inability to close, expect him to figure this out and soon. With the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club quickly approaching, Finau will be among those capable of taking down Rahm (as he did today) and the other members of the true elite such as Scheffler. His iron play tops the PGA Tour over the last six months, and his confidence may not be far behind.