If winning is a habit, Tony Finau may be officially addicted to it.
Finau, who had 39 top-10s, including second eight times between his maiden victory at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open and last August’s endorsement at the Northern Trust, had 143 starts and a 1,975-day span between titles .
The difference between wins three and four was significantly smaller. Seven days after Finau erased a five-year overnight deficit heading into the final round of the 3M Open to win his third Tour title, he made it back-to-back victories by shooting a final-round 5-under 67 at Detroit Golf Club. to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic at The Motor City by five strokes over Patrick Cantlay, Taylor Pendrith and Cameron Young.
Finau, 32, became the first player to win back-to-back tournaments since Patrick Cantlay did it a year ago at the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship. It was Cantlay who posed the biggest threat in the final round to spoil Finau by lifting another trophy. Cantlay birdied five of the first eight holes in his final round, but a bogey on No. 12 proved costly. Reigning FedEx Cup champion shoots 6-under 66, 10-best on Touru top-10 finish of the season.
Pendrith, a 31-year-old Tour rookie from Canada, was out nearly four months with a fractured left rib. He had just one career top-10 finish entering the week, but made 25 birdies in his first 54 holes to share the lead heading into Sunday. Playing in the final group alongside Finau for the second day in a row, Pendrith’s inexperience showed as he carded an even-par 72 to tie for second. Young, a fellow rookie, carded a 68 to record his fourth runner-up finish this season as he still seeks his first Tour title.
Finau birdied the two par 5s on the front nine to take the lead. He sank a clutch 11-footer on the ninth and extended his lead with a 21-foot birdie a hole later on No. 10. Finau went 64 holes, the longest bogey-free drive of his career, before three-putting from 69 feet on No. 11. It was just his third bogey in his last 135 holes, during which he was an impressive 42 under par.
How did Finau respond to his first Motown boo? At 12 o’clockudrained a 31-foot birdie putt and pumped his right fist as he stretched his lead to four shots over Pendrith.
This is the kind of golf Finau has embraced for quite some time. He ranked first in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, second in SG: Off the Tee and third in Driving Accuracy.
“I think that’s a big reason I’ve hit so many greens,” he said of his driving ability. “I’m just hitting a lot more than I’m used to or than I have in the past. This golf course really opens you up if you hit it into the short grass.”
It didn’t hurt that Finau was a perfect six-for-six in scrambling and ranked 11thu in placement. Finau set a new tournament record with a 72-hole total of 26-under 262.
“Whenever you win, you build confidence. I was very happy to carry that confidence from last week into this week,” Finau said. “I’ve been working extremely hard on my game all year and I think the work I’ve put in all this season is paying off and it’s coming together for me late in the season. But this thing, this game has taught me that it doesn’t matter when it comes. If you keep working hard, at some point I think you can make some nice stretches and I think that’s what I’m seeing this week and last week.”
The story originally appeared on GolfWeek