The PGA Tour is one of the most prestigious golf tours in the world. It’s also a place where on any given year, a young player can catapult themselves into stardom and earn millions of dollars. This week, that player was Tony Finau who just won his first PGA Tour event, the WGC-Mexico Championship.
From the first event of the season to the end, professional golfers compete for the FedEx Cup trophy, which is the PGA Tour’s top award. A possible life-changing $15 million is awarded to the champion of the TOUR Championship and the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Tony Finau has moved to the top of the FedEx Cup rankings after his stunning victory at the Northern Trust and is now in the driver’s seat for what might be his greatest payout of his career.
The Northern Trust is won by Tony Finau.
Finau has earned a reputation as one of the greatest players on the PGA Tour but can’t seem to win. He’s had 39 top-10 finishes in the last five seasons, yet he hasn’t won a single award during that time.
Finau beat Australian Cameron Smith in a playoff to win the Northern Trust at 20-under par on Monday, putting an end to the drought. After Smith’s drive went out of bounds, he scored a final-round 65 to reach the leaders by the conclusion of the day, and all he needed was a par on the first playoff hole.
Finau, who has had his fair share of final-round meltdowns in recent seasons, played birdie-eagle-birdie on the back nine at Liberty National to grab the lead and hang on for his first victory in almost 2,000 days.
And what a perfect moment to end the run.
Finau gets behind the wheel on his way to a $15 million payout.
After winning THE NORTHERN TRUST, Tony Finau stands with the trophy | Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Finau started the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 23rd place in the rankings, so he knew he needed three good performances in the playoffs to be in contention for the PGA Tour’s top prize. He couldn’t have had a better start to the playoffs.
Finau overtook Collin Morikawa to grab the lead in the standings after his first victory since 2016. As the playoffs shrinks to only 70 players, he’ll enter next weekend’s BMW Championship at Caves Valley as the new man to beat. Following the BMW Championship, the top 30 will compete in the TOUR Championship at East Lake the following weekend.
Finau will approach the season finale with a significant lead over the rest of the field on the path to $15 million if he can keep his No. 1 position for another week.
The significance of maintaining the No. 1 ranking in the FedEx Cup rankings
Finau will only have two full days to enjoy his first PGA Tour victory in five years, but he must refocus in time for the BMW Championship’s opening round on Thursday. The No. 1 seed in the standings enjoys a significant advantage over the other 29 players in the TOUR Championship field under the most recent iteration of the playoff system.
After the BMW, the No. 1 seed will begin the TOUR Championship on 10-under par, while the No. 2 player will begin on 8-under, the No. 3 player on 7-under, and so on. In the season finale, just four players will be within five strokes of the leader. Dustin Johnson began in the No. 1 position last year and won by three strokes.
Finau may be in the driver’s seat right now, but he still has a long way to go if he wants to win the race for the $15 million prize money.
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