By Cameron Jourdan, Golfweek
Tony Finau boat races field, wins 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open for fifth PGA Tour title
Houston, TX (November 13, 2022) — Tony Finau came into the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open off a missed cut last week in Mexico in his first start of the season. He said he didn’t take any time off and continued to practice to knock off rust in an effort to bounce back.
And did he ever find his form.
Finau led or co-led after every round, and kept distance from the field during the final round Sunday at Memorial Park Golf Course. Finau captured the fifth PGA Tour title of his career Sunday, finishing at 16 under and winning by four strokes.
After winning only once in his first 188 starts on Tour, Finau has now won four times in his past 30 starts and three times in his past seven.
“In a position to win a tournament, you want to know what you’ve got to do,” Finau said of trying to close. “It was different nerves, I’ve never been in that position before where I was that far in front. I mean, I could get used to that, that’s a nice feeling to have. But I tried to just stay present and know that there’s still a lot of golf to be played, and I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”
There was never really a question as to whether Finau was going to win the Houston Open, moreover by how much. After going out in even-par on his first nine holes, he proceeded to go 5 under on his second nine during the first round to tie the lead. Then, he blitzed the field with an 8-under 62 to take a commanding four-shot lead at the halfway point.
During Saturday’s third round, which featured gusty winds and cooler temperatures, Finau didn’t miss any of the 13 fairways and shot 2-under 68, including a great up-and-down on the 18th hole to preserve his four-shot lead heading to the final round. It was a round he called better than the 8-under performance the previous day, and it set him up for Sunday, where he left no doubt.
“I was always hopeful that I could go on special runs, and I think we’re starting to see that now,” Finau said. “I’m starting to put together a full package game, which is really exciting for me. That’s all you can do is work hard, and I’ve worked extremely hard on parts of the game that I know I have to. I think it’s starting to show.”
For Finau, he’s in the field next week at the RSM Classic. He’s also the last player to win back-to-back starts on Tour, which he did at the 3M Open in Minnesota and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Michigan late last season.
“It’s not easy sleeping on the lead,” Finau said. “I just, I didn’t know if I had it in me, but you just take it a shot at a time.”
“It’s an interesting mindset. Yeah, a little bit of don’t screw it up, or maybe if we hit some good shots we can extend this lead. I kind of lived in the middle out there.”
With Finau running away for the title, the most interesting race was who would be runner-up between Tyson Alexander and Ben Taylor. Coming into the Houston Open, neither player had recorded a top-10 finish on Tour.
Alexander drilled a 33-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to get to 12 under, and Taylor, who was a shot behind, hit his approach shot to 23 feet but was unable to make it, so he finished at 11 under and solo third with Alexander finishing runner-up.
“Great week for me,” Alexander said. “I wish Tony would have taken the week off, but yeah, you know, 132 players, I think one guy’s going to beat me, so that’s what it’s all about, just trying to beat as many people as possible.”
Nevertheless, it was a career weekend for both he and Taylor.
It was also a special week for Cole Hammer, Travis Vick and Kyle Westmoreland. Hammer, a Texas graduate, made his first cut on Tour as a professional. He had missed his first six. Hammer finished T-27 at 2 under.
Vick, a current senior at Texas, made the cut and finished at even-par for the week, in a tie for 39th.
It’s a heroic story for Westmoreland. He went to high school in the Houston area, then earlier this year became the first Air Force graduate to earn a Tour card. On Veterans’ Day weekend, Westmoreland made the cut on the number, having to wait until Saturday morning to find out whether he made it. He placed T-27 and 2 under for the week.