Mexican Open 2023 standings, grades: Tony Finau outlasts world No. 1 Jon Rahm for win at Vidanta

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

Starting the day with a two-shot lead over his good friend and playing partner most weeks in Scottsdale, Arizona, Finau squashed the idea of ​​any potential duel early on. A birdie on the opener saw Finau increase his lead to three before three occasional pars on the next three.

In the lead in the penultimate group, Brandon Wu would stand out. 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 as Wu would get as the errors piled up as Finau’s quality began to linger.

A birdie on the par-3 5th was followed by a shrewd save on the 6th, a crucial birdie on the No. 7 and an even more critical par on the 8th. Finau turned 3 under, and not only regained the lead, but increased his margin as a three-punched advantage 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 discomfort would overtake the leader.

Finau’s back nine was a masterclass in how to play with a big lead. Ditching trouble, converting birdie opportunities when they presented themselves and slowly draining life from the tournament and his teammates, the 33-year-old’s inside half 34 meant a final round 66 and a three-time victory.

All of that – staring the world No. 1 in the eye and sneakily becoming one of the most important winners on the tour – is unlikely to materialize for Finau if this tournament was only held three years ago. Enduring a five-year winless drought in 142 tournaments, Finau has now won five times since winning the 2021 FedEx Cup Qualifiers at the Northern Trust just 41 starts ago.

With the win, Finau becomes the fourth PGA Tour player to claim multiple wins this season, joining Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Max Homa. He is rarely talked about in such company as he has yet to win a high profile event such as the Genesis Invitational let alone a major championship.

However, much like Finau’s former inability to shut down, expect him to figure this out and soon. With the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club fast approaching, Finau will be among those able to defeat Rahm (as he did today) and other members of the true elite like Scheffler. His iron game has topped the PGA Tour for the past six months, and his confidence may not be far behind. Rating: A+

Here is the breakdown of the rest of the standings at the Mexico Open 2023

2. Jon Rahm (-21): The world No. 1 could have joined the illustrious club with five victories with a successful title defense (which would have been the first of his career). Had Rahm won, he would have been the fastest to five wins in a season since Johnny Miller in 1974. Instead, he will have to wait. Even the best are sometimes overwhelmed, and after shooting a course-record 61 on Saturday, Rahm was unable to replicate such an effort on Sunday. Rahm is expected to forfeit his first high event of the season at next week’s Wells Fargo Championship, which means the next time we see him will be the PGA Championship at Oak Hill CC. After weeks of media obligations following his victory at the Masters, the absence in Charlotte makes sense and is more than deserved. Rating: A-

3. Brandon Wu (-19): Three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes allowed Wu to momentarily take a share of the lead. He immediately hit again on the par-4 8th and was unable to muster the magic on the back nine. Wu finished with a then-best 63 to finish second to Rahm in 2022, and a similar showdown engulfed Vidanta on Sunday. The 26-year-old is still winless on the PGA Tour despite becoming a sneaky good player on coastal courses with his results at Vidanta, Puerto Rico and even Scotland. Rating: A

4. Akshay Bhatia (-18): Despite failing, the 21-year-old impressed early in the final group alongside Rahm and Finau. Bhatia birdied twice in his first six holes to reach 19 under before the wheels began to drop. He is still so young and has so much to learn, but the implementation of AimPoint on the greens has proven to be a huge difference maker and could continue to be one on the road. Bhatia will be aiming to rack up even more experience like this as he continues to play his special temporary membership. Rating: A

T25. Wyndham Clark (-10): After experiencing a close call a week ago at the Zurich Classic, Clark looked set to finally break through. He got off to a slow start and was never able to recover as the top of the standings ran off the field. Overall, it was just a ho-hum week for the Scottsdale-area resident, as he ranked outside the top 20 in every major hits earned category. He’s having a fantastic year from a statistical standpoint, and while Clark would love to play designated events, it’s those regular tournaments that he’ll have to make his way into. Rating: C

T39. Gary Woodland (-7): The 2019 US Open champion continues to hit the ball solidly as he ranked third in shots won from tee to green this week thanks to strong efforts both off the tee and on the approach. Woodland even got something from his short game – a fairly rare occurrence – but once again fell flat with the putter. After cutting the count, Woodland worked his way up the leaderboard through the final 36 holes, but ultimately the lack of consistent putts (he ranked last in strokes won) was too much to overcome. Rating: D

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