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SALT LAKE CITY — Tony Finau was playing as well as anyone in Sunday’s final round at the RBC Canadian Open, with his eyes on his first PGA Tour win of the season and first since last year’s Northern Trust.
Well, almost anyone, at least.
Rory McIlroy shot an otherworldly 62 to finish 19 under and walk away at St. Georges Golf and Country Club in Toronto, Ontario, totaling 261 in four days to hold off his Salt Lake City playing partner and third. . -place Justin Thomas.
Finau finished two shots behind McIlroy for second with a bogey-free 64 that included six birdies, the last of which is perhaps the most important. That’s because the West High graduate’s 42-foot shot on the 18th green broke a two-way tie for second place with Thomas and pushed Finau’s earnings from $774,300 to $948,300 for the independent second place finish.
And smiling at the edge of the green with an army of Canadian golf fans surrounding him was McIlroy, whom Finau met when they were both young golf prodigies and who stayed with Finau’s parents during a tournament in Utah when he was 10: video of which went viral until Sunday when CBS showed the evidence of the friendship of many years between young people.
“I felt like I was in good shape, I played really well all week,” Finau said. “I knew I was going to have a chance to win today if I stuck to my stuff. And I did. We were one away from the last two (holes), so I knew I had a chance in front of me.
“But Rory played great, he closed it out and I take my hat off to him in a week like this. It’s great to play on the weekend. I played great, just played a couple of shots better.”
McIlroy took home the winner’s winnings of $1.566 million, most of the $8.7 million purse earned after bombing the field, stumbling late and regrouping to move to 19-under and a two-shot lead for his second consecutive title at the Canadian National Open. .
Thomas finished third at 15 under, one shot ahead of Sam Burns and Justin Rose, who scattered seven birdies, three eagles and three bogeys en route to 60 that matched the lowest round of their careers. Corey Conners was the shortest Canadian, shooting 62 on the final day to post a four-day total of 12-under 268 for sixth place.
Finau started the day sharing the lead with McIlroy, his playing partner alongside Thomas, who was also in contention. On an extraordinary day, the Rose Park native was simply brilliant, posting three birdies on the front nine and a fifth on the 208-yard, par-3 13th hole to move to 16-under in the tournament, and as many as three shots behind McIlroy.
However, McIlroy was much more than great.
The Northern Irishman was unconscious up front, racking up five birdies for a five-under 29 before opening up the back with three in a row as he aimed for an unthinkable 59.
By the time his 40-foot birdie putt on the 394-yard, par-4 12th hole bottomed out in the cup, one thing was clear: Toronto was McIlroy’s world, and everyone else just lived in it.
“I think after COVID and everything, I needed a complete reset,” McIlroy told CBS after his round, his 21st career victory and only the third golfer to win the Canadian National Open in back-to-back starts since 1952.” I rededicated myself to the game a little bit, and I realized what makes me happy, this makes me happy.
“I have a great team around me, and they have my back 100%. It makes it easy for me to do what I did today.”
The four-time Grand Slam champion reminded everyone of his mortality with a bogey on the par-3 13th hole, and his three-shot lead over Thomas evaporated with a second bogey on the 189-yard par-3 16th hole.
Thomas, for his part, was also phenomenal. The 29-year-old Alabama graduate made six straight birdies to No. 11 to tie Finau’s effort at 16-under with six holes remaining while flirting with course records. A birdie on No. 14 gave him a temporary chunk of the lead, but his first bogey in 34 holes at the 494-yard, par-4 17th hole gave it back to McIlroy, who birdied the same hole to go. his lead back to two shots before ending the round with his own birdie on the 18th.
Finau. Thomas. Pink. McIlroy faced many challenges while playing some of his best golf of the season, and he fended off each one by defending his 2019 RBC title (the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Survive, advance and win.
“It was amazing playing today with Tony and JT, two of the best players in the world,” McIlroy said. “This is a day I will remember for a long time.”
For Finau, Sunday ended a streak of eight straight cuts with three top-five finishes since April, and plenty of confidence heading into next week’s US Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
“This is big,” Finau said. “I’m looking forward to next week. I’ve never seen Brookline. But any time you come off a good solid performance, no matter where you put yourself, it always gives you confidence. So it’s definitely given me confidence this week. My game It’s strong and I’m looking forward to seeing the golf course next week and following it.”