By Joel Tadman
Who is Tony Finau? We reveal more details about the big-hitting American Tony Finau, who's name reached the top of the US Masters leader board on Thursday
Who is Tony Finau?
A name you may not recognize near the top of the US Masters Leader board during the first round is that of Tony Finau.
He hit the headlines during the Par 3 Championship on Wednesday when while celebrating a hole-in-one he dislocated his ankle running backwards. He proceeded to pop it back into the place, got the all clear from the doctors in the morning and teed off.
But as they say, beware the injured golfer, as he reached the summit of the leader board after 13 holes at 4-under par, but just who is this big-hitting American?
Finau has had a rather unusual rise to the PGA Tour. The 28-year old, of mixed Tongan Samoan heritage, grew up in a troubled part of Sale Lake City, Utah. He learned the game in the family’s garage, where his father created a makeshift driving range using some old carpet, some netting and a mattress.
He and his brother, Gipper, would practise for four hours a night with some second-hand clubs and a Jack Nicklaus coaching manual Finau Snr found in the library. Both took to the game immediately and dominated the local junior ranks.
Tony, a gifted all-round sportsman, was offered a college basketball scholarship but turned it down to become a pro at 17. He had subsidized his golf by performing a dance with flaming knives at parties for $50 a pop. This allowed him to compete for the $2 million first prize at the Ultimate Game competition held in Las Vegas.
A family friend had provided the $50,000 fee needed for the two brothers to compete and Tony made the finals, winning $150,000.
But Finau struggled to progress after that and spent five years at Q-School before finally making his card for the 2014/15 PGA Tour season.
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Since then, he’s finished T14 and T10 at the 2015 US Open and USPGA respectively and won his first PGA Tour title at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. He then put himself in contention for the 2016 Open at Royal Troon having never played links golf, but eventually slipped back to finish T18.
Finau’s 2017 season was a solid one, recording a runner-up finish at the Safeway Open along with eight other top tens en route to finishing 19th in the FedEx Cup standings. This consistent form carried over into 2018 with two top tens including a tied second at the Genesis Open.
Finau currently leads the PGA Tour’s driving distance statistics for 2018 with an average drive of 321 yards , surprising length given his short back swing. He signed an equipment deal with Ping at the start of the year.
Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf.
During these enjoyable years he has had some money-can't-buy experiences, like interviewing Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy one-on-one and covering the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.
One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 87 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 4.7.
Joel's current What's In The Bag?
Driver: TaylorMade SIM2, 9°
Fairway wood: Titleist TSi3, 15°
Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18°
Irons: TaylorMade P770, 4-PW
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8, 50°, 54° and 58°
Putter: Evnroll ER2V
Ball: 2021 Titleist Pro V1x
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