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Northern Trust 2021: Tony Finau Defeats Cameron Smith in Playoff for 2nd PGA Tour Win

Adam WellsAugust 23, 2021

Tony Finau tees off on the third hole in the final round at The Northern Trust golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Course Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, in Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo

A dramatic finish to the 2021 Northern Trust saw Tony Finau defeat Cameron Smith in a playoff to win the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. 

Finau and Smith finished with matching scores of 20-under par at the end of 72 holes. Finau won on the first playoff hole after Smith's tee shot landed out of bounds. The 31-year-old made par to secure his second career PGA Tour win and first since 2016. 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Advantage <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyfinaugolf?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TonyFinauGolf</a>.<br><br>Cameron Smith's tee shot on the first playoff hole lands out of bounds. <a href="https://t.co/ZrIkbstL6s">pic.twitter.com/ZrIkbstL6s</a>

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Victorious at Liberty National πŸ†<br><br>The winning moment for <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyfinaugolf?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TonyFinauGolf</a>. <a href="https://t.co/IWcv7KmAwL">pic.twitter.com/IWcv7KmAwL</a>

Jon Rahm fell off the pace late after leading or co-leading at the end of each of the first three rounds.  His bogey on No. 15 was just his third of the entire tournament. He hit another one on 18 that dropped him down to third place. 

Finau's six-under 65 on Monday was the lowest score of the final round. Smith wasn't really a factor until the back nine when he made four birdies to move into a tie for the lead. 

2021 Northern Trust Final Leaderboard (Payout)

1. Tony Finau, -20 ($1,710,000)

2. Cameron Smith, -20 ($1,035,500)

3. Jon Rahm, -18 ($655,500)

T4. Alex Noren, -15 ($399,791)

T4. Tom Hoge, -15 ($399,791)

T4. Justin Thomas, -15 ($399,791)

7. Erik van Rooyen, -14 ($320,625)

T8. Kevin Na, -13 ($277,875)

T8. Keith Mitchell, -13 ($277,875)

T8. Corey Connors, -13 ($277,875)

 Payouts via Zepyhr Melton of Golf.com

Smith's chances of winning seemed to really take a hit on the par-four fifth hole. He took a double-bogey six that moved him from one shot ahead of Rahm to one shot behind. 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

The road less traveled. <br><br>Cameron Smith's adventures on the 5th via TOURCast.

Meanwhile, Rahm looked to be in control coming off the sixth hole. He made his first birdie of the day on the par five, despite having to take a drop after his tee shot landed in a puddle in the fairway. 

Rahm would make his second birdie of the round on the par-five eighth hole. 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Another par 5, another birdie. 🐦🐦<br><br>The lead is two for <a href="https://twitter.com/JonRahmpga?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JonRahmPGA</a>. <a href="https://t.co/Euae94cVJL">pic.twitter.com/Euae94cVJL</a>

While Rahm remained at 18-under par for his next three holes, Finau made a furious charge up the leaderboard. He had a three-hole run from 12-14 in which he went four under par, highlighted by an eagle on the par-five 13th hole. 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Eagle at 13 for <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyfinaugolf?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TonyFinauGolf</a>.<br><br>He's 1 shot back. <a href="https://t.co/nGKwQ0frRw">pic.twitter.com/nGKwQ0frRw</a>

Justin Ray @JustinRayGolf

Approach shots from 200-225 yards out, fairway<br><br>PGA Tour average this season: 42'5"<br>Tony Finau average this season: 39'9"<br>Tony Finau at 13 today: 3'1"

That run helped Finau move one shot ahead of Rahm for the top spot, but that lead wouldn't last long. 

Rahm made back-to-back birdies on No. 12 and 13 that dropped his overall score to 20-under par. Finau got back on equal footing with Rahm thanks to another birdie on the 16th hole. 

The first big mistake of the day for Rahm turned out to be a costly one. His tee shot on No. 15 landed in the bunker on the left side of the fairway. He got on the green in three with an opportunity to save par, but his putt from five feet away just missed the hole, forcing him to settle for bogey. 

Smith made a late push to get even with Finau with back-to-back birdies on No. 16 and 17 that moved him into a tie for the lead going into the final hole. 

Finau was in trouble on the 18th hole when his second shot landed in a bunker on the right side of the green. He saved it with a fantastic chip shot out of the dirt that stopped six feet from the hole. 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Leader in the clubhouse at -20.<a href="https://twitter.com/tonyfinaugolf?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TonyFinauGolf</a> finishes with a clutch par save from the bunker on 18. <a href="https://t.co/2CzzOoi0TH">pic.twitter.com/2CzzOoi0TH</a>

The Northern Trust marked a dramatic reversal of fortune for Finau. He has been struggling of late with seven straight finishes outside of the top 10, including back-to-back missed cuts at the U.S. Open and Travelers Championship in June. 

Finau has already ensured a spot at the BMW Championship. The top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings will continue playing. 

If Finau can carry his positive momentum into next week's tournament, he could end up in prime position for the Tour Championship.