HOUSTON (AP) — Winning used to come hard for Tony Finau. Now he’s making it look easy.
Staked to a four-shot lead Sunday in the Houston Open, Finau stretched it to eight shots on the back nine and sailed to his third PGA Tour victory of the year. With three bogeys that only affected the margin, he closed with a 1-under 69 and won by four.
Finau won only once in his first 185 tournaments upon joining the PGA Tour. Now he has four in the last 30 tournaments, including three in this calendar year.
Finau seized control with a 62 in the second round ahead of the change in weather and was superb in his bogey-free round of 68 in Saturday’s cold and wind. No one came close to catching him on Sunday.
He finished at 16-under 264 and started the new season with a win — moving to No. 12 in the world ranking — after shaking off some rust in a missed cut last week at Mayakoba.
PGA Tour rookie Tyson Alexander won the B-flight, and it was a big deal. Alexander made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 66 and moved out of a tie for second to be the sole runner-up. That was worth enough FedEx Cup points that it should be a virtual lock that he qualifies for the postseason next summer.
Ben Taylor missed his 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 70 and finished third.
BELLEAIR, Fla. (AP) — A year Nelly Korda would like to forget is ending with the American star in a familiar position as the No. 1 player in women’s golf.
Locked in a fight with Lexi Thompson along the back nine, Korda pulled ahead with birdies on the 16th and 17th hole and held on for a 6-under 64 for a one-shot victory Sunday in the Pelican Women’s Championship.
Korda won at Pelican Golf Club for the second straight year, this one elevating her past Thai teenager Atthaya Thitikul to reclaim the No. 1 ranking.
Korda started the year at No. 1, but then she missed four months with a blood clot in her left arm and has been struggling to regain her form ever since. Her only victory was in the Aramco Team Series in Spain on the Ladies European Tour.
This was her first LPGA Tour title, and the tears when it was over were evident how much it meant to her after all her struggles.
Allisen Corpuz, an LPGA Tour rookie who started the final round with a one-shot lead, birdied two of her last four holes for a 69 to finish alone in third.
The leading 60 players in the Race to the CME Globe advance to the season-ending Tour Championship next week in Naples. Maria Fassi of Mexico was in position to join them until she finished with two bogeys.
The final spot for the $7 million purse next week — the winner gets $2 million, a record for women’s golf — went to Ariya Jutanugarn, who had missed the cut at Pelican.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
PHOENIX (AP) — Steven Alker shot 3-under 68 to finish third behind record-setting Padraig Harrington in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Sunday, completing his climb from career journeyman to champion of the PGA Tour Champions.
Harrington needed to win and have Alker finish outside the top five for Harrington to claim the season-long Charles Schwab Cup in his second season on the PGA Tour Champions. The 51-year-old Irishman shot 6-under 65 in breezy conditions at Phoenix Country Club.
Harrington finished at 27-under 257 to break the PGA Tour Champions 72-hole record of 258 set by Tom Lehman at the 2012 Schwab Cup Championship. The 27 under matches the record set by Jack Nicklaus at the 1990 Kaulig Companies Championship.
Alker trailed Harrington by five shots heading into the final round, but the players behind were his only concern in terms of the Schwab Cup.
Alker started his PGA Tour Champions career as a Monday qualifier at the Boeing Classic in August 2021, picking up a top-10 finish that earned him a spot in the following week’s tournament. He followed with four more top 10s to keep playing, earned his way into the postseason and eventually won to secure a full card.
The confidence snowballed into this season, when he won five times while earning more than $3.3 million.
SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) — Tommy Fleetwood ended three years without a victory Sunday when he closed with a 5-under 67 to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge for the second straight time.
Fleetwood overcame a three-shot deficit and held on to win by one shot over Ryan Fox, who closed with a bogey for a 68. Fox could have moved past Rory McIlroy atop the DP World Tour points list with a win.
Fleetwood won in Sun City in 2019 but was the defending champion after the 2020 and 2021 tournaments were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shubhankar Sharma (69) was third.
Rasmus Højgaard and Thomas Detry shared the third-round lead but couldn’t hold on through a final day that was interrupted by rain. Højgaard carded a 4-over 76 to finish tied for eighth while Detry’s final-round 77 saw him tumble to a share of 13th.
European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald had a 73-75 weekend and tied for 13th.
Ryo Ishikawa closed with a 1-under 69 and birdied the second playoff hole against Rikyua Hoshino to win the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters on the Japan Golf Tour. It was Ishikawa’s first victory in three years. … Sixteen-year-old Chiara Noja of Germany closed with a 65 and beat Charley Hull in a playoff to win the Aramco Team Series Jeddah on the Ladies European Tour. Noja is a senior in high school in Dubai. … Former U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, who played one LIV Golf event and finished last, closed with an 8-under 62 and won the International Series-Egypt on the Asian Tour for his first professional victory. Ogletree won by four over Bernd Wiesberger, who finished 31st in LIV prize money. … Min Ji Park won for the sixth time this year on the Korea PGA, closing with an even-par 72 for a two-shot victory over Song Yi Ahn in the SK Telecom Championship. … Miyuu Yamashita won the Itoen Ladies on the Japan LPGA with a 1-under 71 for a one-shot victory over Momoko Kishibe.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports