VALLARTA, Mexico — Tony Finau and Jon Rahm play enough golf together away from the PGA Tour that Finau thinks it has only made him a better player.
He showed that Sunday in the Mexico Open — at Rahm's expense.
Finau was expecting a tough test against Rahm, the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking who is only a few weeks removed from winning the Masters for the second major championship of his career. Equipped with a two-shot lead entering the final round, Finau avoided bogeys for a 5-under-par 66 and never gave the 28-year-old Spaniard or anyone else much of a chance.
The 33-year-old from Utah finished at 24-under 260 in the 72-hole event and wound up winning by three shots. It's the sixth win of his PGA Tour career and his fourth in the past nine months.
"Any time you can battle with a guy like Jon Rahm who's in the form that he was and come out on top, it makes me feel good," Finau said. "Rahm is a good friend of mine, we practice quite a bit together, so having Rahmbo as like a sparring partner for me has only made me better. And I hope he can say the same."
Finau earned a small measure of redemption at Vallarta Vidanta, where last year he finished runner-up to Rahm by one shot.
"Obviously I wanted to win, but it's a reminder that everybody out here is a great player," Rahm said. "Tony came out with a two-shot lead and played fantastic golf. I feel like had I been able to pressure him a little more, we would have seen more birdies from Tony."
Turns out Rahm wasn't Finau's biggest threat Sunday.
Brandon Wu, also a runner-up to Rahm last year, holed a 45-foot eagle putt on the par-5 sixth hole and made a short birdie on the next hole to briefly tie for the lead. Finau answered with a birdie on the seventh, and then Wu fell back with a bogey from the bunker on No. 8 and a tee shot into the water on the 10th that led to a double bogey.
"Just a few too many loose swings," Wu said after completing a 68 to finish third. "Satisfied with how I went today. I'm glad I gave myself a chance through nine holes."
Rahm closed with a 67 and certainly had his chances. He was three behind Finau at the turn, but he failed to make birdies on two of the par 5s, with a poor drive on the 12th and a poor approach on the 14th that kept him from reasonable chances.
"It was a day where I didn't do much wrong, but I didn't do much right, either," he said.
The Spaniard's last hope was on the 16th hole. Finau hit his approach into the bunker and Rahm hit a 7-iron into the same trap. Both made par, and at that point, Rahm simply ran out of holes.
Akshay Bhatia, the 21-year-old who has special temporary membership, faded to a 70 and finished fourth.
Chattanooga's Stephan Jaeger made six birdies in a closing 67 and tied for 18th at 11 under.
Gooch on a roll
SINGAPORE — Talor Gooch became the first player to win back-to-back LIV Golf League tournaments with his playoff victory against Sergio Garcia at Sentosa Golf Club.
Gooch, a 31-year-old American, and Garcia, the 43-year-old Spaniard who won the 2017 Masters, shadowed each other for most of the opening two rounds in Singapore. Sunday's final round was no different, with the two never more than a stroke apart as they finished 54-hole regulation play at 17-under 196 to force the extra hole.
After returning to the par-5 18th, Gooch skirted with the water hazard with his tee shot but played a nearly perfect second shot into the heart of the green, where he easily two-putted for a birdie. Garcia's second shot found the greenside bunker, and he was unable to make his birdie try, giving Gooch his second successive win and a $4 million prize.
For Gooch, it's the ninth time he has either led or shared a lead after an LIV round, the most of any player on the circuit that debuted last summer. He has now led or shared the lead in the past six rounds.
"It's one of those days that I'll remember," said Gooch. "I grew up watching Sergio. He's one of the greatest golfers of this generation. To go and battle with him and come out on top is something I'll never forget."
Two-time LIV tournament winner Brooks Koepka of the U.S. shot a 67 to finish third at 16 under, one shot ahead of Scott Vincent (67) of Zimbabwe, who had briefly threatened to make it a four-way battle for the title before a bogey at the par-4 15th stalled his momentum.
Australia's Cam Smith (71), the reigning British Open champ, tied for sixth at 12 under after he mixed regular birdies with bogeys for an even final round.
LIV's next event tees off May 12 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Gooch will be playing in his home state as he goes for a third consecutive victory.
Repeat for Alker
THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Steven Alker won the Insperity Invitational for the second straight year, closing with a 6-under 66 for a four-shot victory over Steve Stricker and his first PGA Tour Champions this season.
The 51-year-old New Zealander pulled away from Stricker on the back nine with five birdies in a seven-hole stretch for a 31 on the back nine, and he had an emotional moment of reflection when it was over.
His former caddie, Sam Workman, was from the Houston area. Workman last caddied in January in Hawaii before being diagnosed with cancer. He died about a month later.
Stricker was five shots behind going into the final round. He was slowed by a double bogey on the third hole, but he wound up with nine birdies in his round of 65. The runner-up finish enabled Stricker to take the lead in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race over David Toms (70), who tied for third with Scotland's Colin Montgomerie (68) at 8 under.
Alker, who finished at 15-under 201, won the Charles Schwab Cup last year and was voted player of the year on the 50-and-older tour.
"I hit it great off the tee and hit some nice iron shots, and I got it done on the back," Alker said. "I haven't defended a championship. I had a whole bunch of reasons today to try and win this golf tournament, and it worked out."
Green wins playoff
LOS ANGELES — Hannah Green made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to join a three-way playoff, and the 26-year-old Australian then made par on the second extra hole to win the JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club.
In a wild finish that featured a five-way tie for the lead late in the final round of the 72-hole tournament, Green made a birdie for a 2-under 69 to join Aditi Ashok of India and Xiyu Lin of China in the playoff.
Ashok, who had the 36-hole lead, and Lin each closed with a 67 and were the first to post at 9-under 275. Green and Lin birdied the first playoff hole on the par-3 18th.
On the second extra hole at No. 18, Lin hit into a bunker and blasted out to some 18 feet and missed the par putt. That left Green to tap in from 2 feet for her first LPGA Tour win since September 2019.
Green finished second here last year and third the year before at Wilshire. She was emotional and wiping away tears after the victory.
"It's been a long few years," Green said. "I was playing well last year, but getting across the line's been really difficult. I'm proud of myself. I'm really happy."
Green won for the third time. She captured her lone major championship in the 2019 KPMG Women's PGA and also won the Portland Classic that year.
Ashok had a 15-foot putt that lipped out on the 18th in the playoff, ending her bid for her first LPGA Tour victory. Lin made a 12-foot putt, and Green made a four-footer to stay in the game.
Cheyenne Knight, who had a two-shot lead going into the final round, closed with a 2-over 73 and tied for sixth.
Solid on Sunday
INCHEON, South Korea — Pablo Larrazábal shot a tidy 5-under 67 in the final round of the DP World Tour's Korea Championship to complete a two-shot victory over Denmark's Marcus Helligkilde (68).
The 39-year-old Spaniard finished the 72-hole tournament at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea at 12-under 276, good enough to secure his eighth victory on the European circuit. Larrazábal started the final round one shot back, closed to a five-way share of the lead at the turn at 9 under, then pulled away with four birdies in the next five holes to open a three-shot advantage he never relinquished.
"I love to compete, I love to fly out here, to see all these young guys hitting it miles and try to beat them," Larrazábal said. "And that's what makes me the happiest guy in the world."
Helligkilde held off a four-strong pursuing pack that included home favourite Park Sanghyun (70). Scotland's Scott Jamieson (70) joined the South Korean in third place at 9 under, along with Spain's Jorge Campillo and Dutchman Joost Luiten, who both closed with a 65.