Utah’s Tony Finau played well enough to win the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday, firing a 6-under 64 at St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto.
But Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy played just a little bit better, carding an 8-under 62.
As a result, McIlroy successfully defended his title, shooting 19-under to win the tournament by two strokes over Finau in front of an enthusiastic PGA Tour crowd watching their country’s national championship for the first time since 2019 (the 2020 and 2021 tournaments were canceled by the pandemic).
“This is a day I will remember for a long, long time. … My 21st PGA Tour win. One more than someone else.” — Ireland’s Rory McIlroy after winning the RBC Canadian Open.
McIlroy and Finau were tied at 11-under entering Sunday’s final round, but McIlroy’s 10 birdies — offsetting two bogeys — won the day at the par-70 layout whose best defense was a gnarly rough and some tricky greens.
It was the first time in 15 tries that McIlroy, who spent the summer of 2000 playing in Utah when he was 11 years old, has successfully defended a tournament title.
“This is a day I will remember for a long, long time,” McIlroy said, taking a subtle jab at Greg Norman of the LIV Golf Invitational, which is now competing for players from the PGA Tour. “… My 21st PGA Tour win. One more than someone else.”
Norman had 20 tour wins but is best known for losing a big, final-round lead at the Masters.
Two-time PGA Tour winner Charl Schwartzel, a former Masters champion, won the Inaugural LIV Golf Invitational near London, England, over the weekend, pocketing a whopping $4.75 million.
McIlroy won $1.566 million for Sunday’s win, while Finau earned $948,300 for the runner-up finish.
Finau, 32, will also remember the Canadian Open’s final round, because he played solidly and mistake-free.
He just missed a couple short putts that proved costly, both Sunday and Saturday, when he tied his career PGA Tour low of 62 but missed a couple of short birdie putts.
He made just one bogey in his final 36 holes.
Back in 2000, Finau’s family hosted McIlroy that summer when the boyhood friends competed on the Utah junior golf circuit, with McIlroy playing in 10 junior tournaments of the Utah Junior Golf Association that year.
Both golfers sank birdie putts on the 18th green Sunday, much to the delight of the pro-McIlroy crowd.
Finau’s was from 42 feet, McIlroy’s from just over 4 feet.
Another tour star, Justin Thomas, was third at -15 after having bogeyed his final two holes to let Finau slip past him for second.
England’s Justin Rose fired a tournament-low 60 on Sunday and tied Sam Burns at 14-under for fourth.
Finau fell behind by a shot when McIlroy birdied the first hole but made an 18-footer for birdie on No. 2 to move back into a tie for the lead.
However, McIlroy birdied No. 4 to regain the lead, then saw Finau make a 4-footer on No. 5 to even it up again.
On No. 15, a reachable par-5, Finau missed a 6-footer for birdie to make a par on the easy hole for the second-straight day.
McIlroy took control by making birdies on four straight holes, and six of seven. He birdied holes 9, 10, 11 and 12 to go 8-under on the day, 19-under for the tournament.
The Irishman made a bogey from a greenside bunker on No. 16 to let Thomas tie him and Finau get within two shots.
On No. 17, McIlroy hit his 127-yard approach shot within 3 feet of the hole and made birdie to essentially seal the deal.