(CNN)It’s been five years, four months and 27 days for Tony Finau to feel the euphoria of standing in the winner’s circle.
But on Monday afternoon, Finau ended his long wait for his second PGA Tour win, beating Cameron Smith in a playoff to win the Northern Trust at the Liberty National Golf Club.In those five years without a win, Finau carded eight runner-up finishes and 39 top-10 finishes. No wonder he looked a relieved figure after sinking the winning putt to clinch his first victory since the 2016 Puerto Rico Opem.
“I have an extreme belief in myself, and I have to,” the 31-year-old Finau told reporters.
“This game is hard as it is. These guys are so good as it is. If you can’t believe you can beat them, man, it’s just an uphill battle, and I just continue to believe.”Read MoreFinau couldn’t have ended his barren run on a bigger stage, winning the first stage of the FedExCup Playoffs, which will crown the PGA Tour’s season champion.After the final round of the Northern Trust was delayed until Monday because of Tropical Storm Henri which made landfall on the northeast of the US over the weekend, Finau shot an excellent final-round 65 to finish on 20-under par for the tournament with Australian Smith, forcing the two into a playoff.But on the first hole, Finau snatched his momentous victory, and one which shoots him to the top of the FedExCup rankings with two tournaments to play — this week’s BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in Atlanta in September.The Northern Trust is the PGA Tour’s first FedEx Cup playoff event.The FedEx Cup sees player accrue ranking points throughout the season with the top 125 taking part in the first playoff.The field is whittled down with a final 30 players competing at the Tour Championship, where the FedExCup Champion wins $15 million.”I believe in myself,” added Finau. “I believe in my team. I haven’t had the wins to maybe have that type of confidence and belief, but you just have to.”I have to believe I can go out there and beat J.T. today, and I can beat Jon Rahm,” Finau continued, referring to Justin Thomas and golf’s world No. 1. “I have to believe that, and I did, and I continue to do that, and that’s the only reason why I’m sitting here today as the champion.”READ: Fresh off second major victory at the Open, Collin Morikawa relishing chance to represent Team USA at Tokyo 2020 Finau putts on the first-playoff 18th hole at the Northern Trust. A tough few daysPatrick Reed’s return to Liberty National, where he won the Northern Trust in 2019, did not go to plan.The American, who came into the tournament ranked 22nd in the FedExCup standings, was forced to pull out with an ankle injury.And during the final round, Reed issued a statement saying that he’s been home in Houston battling double-pneumonia.Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videos”The good news is, my ankle is okay,” he wrote. “The bad news is I’ve been in the hospital with bilateral pneumonia. I’m on the road to recovery, once I’m cleared from the doctors — I look forward to returning. I wish you all the best and I can’t wait to get back out there!
“Thank you so much for your support,” he continued, “it means a lot to me. Also, a special thank you to the doctors, nurses, and staff at The Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.”Reed withdrew from this week’s BMW Championship, the second event of the FedExCup Playoffs, on Monday too.