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Feb 21, 2024 6:30 pm

Golf game thriving, Tony Finau back to defend Mexico Open title

tony finau

Tony Finau has every reason to be confident entering the next stop on the PGA Tour.

Not only is he the only top-25 player in the world in the field this week, but Finau also has a sterling track record at the Mexico Open at Vidanta, which begins Thursday in Vallarta, Mexico.

After tying for second in 2022 in the national open’s first year as a PGA Tour event, Finau returned last year and shot a 24-under 260 to win the event by three strokes.

Now Finau returns to the par-71 Vidanta Vallarta with a head of steam building. He’s 5-for-5 in made cuts in 2024, including a T6 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open and a T19 at last week’s Genesis Invitational.

“I said it last year after we left, our family’s really fallen in love with this place,” said Finau, No. 24 in the Official World Golf Ranking. “And to be back defending this year is pretty special. We’re really happy to be back, I’m really happy to be back on a golf course that I love.”

Finau — who once had a reputation for frequent top-10 finishes without breaking through for a victory — has earned four of his six PGA Tour wins inside the past 20 months. He said he feels ready to go on another run.

“I look forward to competing. I feel like the game’s in a good place,” he said. “I’ve had a couple nice finishes on the West Coast. … It’s nice to have the juices going already and being at a golf tournament that I really enjoy.”

Finau isn’t the only player on the property who has shown comfortability with the 7,456-yard track.

Brandon Wu placed third last year after a T2 in 2022. And Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, ranked 40th in the world, shot a final-round 65 in 2023 to tie for fifth. He sees opportunity in the course’s wide fairways as well as the ideal weather, as the tournament is being played two months earlier than it was last year.

“It’s in absolute perfect condition. I would say it’s the best I’ve seen,” Grillo said. “Greens are rolling fine, fairways are just probably the best you’ll find on tour. Considering it’s a different date, I think it’s going to be less windy, so it’s going to be a lot of birdies, that’s for sure.”

The most notable player on a sponsor exemption is Chile’s Cristobal Del Solar. Earlier this month, Del Solar shot a 57 on the Korn Ferry Tour — the lowest 18-hole score ever in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

Eight players from Mexico are in the field, three of them amateurs. PGA Tour rookie Raul Pereda got into the event last season, opened with a 65, made the cut and tied for 60th.

“It is huge for the growth of the game, it is huge to keep showing the generations that we have coming in the near future to pursue the game of golf,” Pereda said. “Definitely having the Mexico Open, having a PGA Tour event or two PGA Tour events in Mexico, it means a lot for the sport in general, for the country, being able to put more kids out there and showing them being able to be in the big league, it’s possible.”

–Field Level Media

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