Tony Finau defeats Scott Piercy to win the 3M Open with a late surge

Tony Finau defeats Scott Piercy to win the 3M Open with a late surge

Tony Finau unexpectedly felt the strain increase in his head as he strove to maintain the momentum he has established this summer after learning that he was the betting favourite for the 3M Open.

His third PGA Tour victory came as a result of playing catch-up.

As Scott Piercy lost the lead down the stretch at the windy TPC Twin Cities, Finau scored a 4-under 67 to win the 3M Open by three strokes on Sunday. Finau erased a five-stroke deficit with 11 holes left.

Finau, who finished at 17-under 267, said: “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”.

Emiliano Grillo (71) and Sungjae Im (68) tied for second place. Piercy shot a painful 76 to tie for fourth place, four strokes down, after posting a 54-hole score that set a tournament record. James Hahn shot a 65 to tie Piercy and Tom Hoge (70) at 13 under, moving up the leaderboard.

Prior to a triple-bogey meltdown on hole No. 14, Piercy bogeyed four out of six holes, giving Finau, who was playing in the preceding trio, the opportunity to take the lead permanently. The 32-year-old Finau achieved the largest winning rally in this competition’s four editions and was graciously congratulated by Piercy outside the scoring tent.

“According to Finau, who previously won in 2016 and 2021, “I’m about as good an example as any of how tough it is to seal the deal.”  He has won three thirds and placed in 10 second places. “Anytime you win one, it’s awesome to get the respect of the guys that you’re playing against.”

His wife and five children naturally provided the most support. They accompanied him from the tee to the green while staying with him in a rental home close to the course. Finau found it helpful to divert his focus from his swing when it wasn’t necessary with fishing trips and family dinners.

“I’m a husband,” Finau said. “I’m a dad. I’m their friend. I try to have a good time with them.”

In the FedEx Cup standings, Finau—who tied for third at the 3M Open in 2020—rose from 30th to 17th place. He was ranked 17th in the world as the week started.

Finau extended his hold on the lead with a 31-foot putt for birdie on the 15th green as he confidently strode the course in his slim 6-foot-4 frame, white cap, and aqua-striped polo.

The clearest indication that this was Finau’s day occurred on number 17. A few feet from the ocean, his tee shot clanged off the side of the grandstand, bounced back onto the green, and rolled into the rough. He made the par 3 by landing the ideal chip within a foot of the hole. He then smiled slightly and playfully put his hand over his chest as though the sequence had given him heart palpitations.

Finau encountered one last difficulty on the tough par-5 18th, finding the water off the tee. But Finau sank a 3-footer for bogey to put the game away while Piercy watched from the fairway. He exclaimed loudly, removed his cap, and then moved to embrace his family.

Piercy and Im shared the lead after the first round on Thursday after each carded a 65. On Friday, Piercy broke away from the field with a 64 to take a three-shot advantage into the weekend. After surviving the 612-hour rain delay and an excruciating heel blister on Saturday, he increased his lead to four strokes.

That was nothing in comparison to the struggle he experienced on Sunday. After six holes, he had a score of 20-under. Piercy was in jeopardy less than an hour later. He had only three bogeys through his first 61 holes, but seven of his final 11 holes saw him exceed par. Included in that was the 7 he submitted for No. 14.

Piercy’s tee shot found the fairway bunker, and he was unable to escape with his sand wedge. His next attempt from the bunker splashed in the water short and left of the green rather than a safer shot to the right as a desperate attempt to get back on track. Piercy struck into the rough after the drop. His subsequent try came to a standstill three inches shy of the cup.

Piercy held or shared the three-round lead for the fourth time in six tries, but she still lost the competition.

Grillo, an Argentine who tied for second at the John Deere Classic three weeks ago, shot a triple bogey on hole number seven that ultimately loomed large for him. This week saw 303 balls in the water, which is a season high on the circuit.

Grillo said, “Tony pressed really hard on the gas, and he just made it very hard for everybody.”

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