TORONTO — Tony Finau birdied the final hole Saturday for an 8-under 62 and a share of the RBC Canadian Open lead with defending champion Rory McIlroy.
“I didn’t finish the way I wanted to yesterday and I think all it did was kind of light a fire in my belly to get after it today,” Finau said. “That’s pretty much what I did. I made some birdies and I just played really clean golf. “
McIlroy had a 65 to match Finau at 11-under 199 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
“I’m just happy to give myself a chance, be in the final group,” McIlroy said. “Once I saw, I think Tony had got to 10 or maybe 11, I think I was on like 8 or 9 at the time. I just said to myself, ‘Let’s just try to get yourself in the final group.'”
McIlroy had to wait three years to defend his 2019 title because of the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled golf’s fourth-oldest championship the past two years.
“I need to set myself a number and be super aggressive,” McIlroy said. “I know I’m going to have to make some birdies out there to win this thing tomorrow.”
Finau had the best round of the week, eagling the par-5 ninth in a front-nine 29 and making four birdies and a bogey on the final nine. He won the FedEx Cup playoff opener last season at Riviera for his second PGA Tour victory.
“I knew I was playing well, but at any given moment on this golf course you can make a number,” Finau said. “So, there’s no reason to get ahead of myself. I just tried to stay in the moment as much as I could and put together a nice round all the way to the end.”
PGA champion Justin Thomas (63), Colonial winner Sam Burns (65), Wyndham Clark (68) and Alex Smalley (67) were 9 under.
Thomas eagled the par-5 15th.
“It was very — it was easy,” Thomas said. “I mean, I just, I played really solid. I didn’t do anything great. I just didn’t do anything bad. … I took advantage of some of the opportunities when I had them there in kind of the middle of the course and just stayed patient and waited for my run.”
Clark led after each of the first two rounds.
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start.” Clark said. “I was nervous, a lot of people out here, hadn’t been in contention in a little while. But then I calmed down and I really felt good about my game.”
Nick Taylor was the top Canadian player at 5 under after a 67.