Tony Finau Profile
|Born||Sep 14, 1989|
|Birthplace||Salt Lake City, Utah, United States|
Tony Finau is known for being one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour and surprisingly turned professional as a teenager, but shares an unwanted record that he'll be looking to change.
Milton Pouha "Tony" Finau took a road less traveled on his way to rubbing shoulders with the best golfers in the world.
Finau, who was also a promising basketball player, opted not only to turn down athletic scholarships but also rejected attending university. Instead, he jumped straight into being a fully-fledged professional at the age of 17, joining mini-tours in a bid to earn PGA Tour membership.
Finau also competed in Canada's Mackenzie Tour and after years of graft, he finally earned his PGA Tour Card for the 2014/15 season.
A powerfully built man, Finau epitomizes the new breed of golfer, but it has taken him some time to be as assured on the course as he is today.
To describe him as a natural athlete would detract from the hours and hours spent honing his craft.
Finau cuts an intimidating presence in any tee box, effortlessly smashing balls huge distances down the course.
One might be forgiven for assuming Finau has always had boundless confidence considering he decided to turn pro as a teenager, but in PGA Tour terms he has matured at a steady rather than spectacular pace.
Finau's amateur career
Finau's career as an amateur was short, being effectively limited to a handful of tournaments he played while in high school.
While still attending West High School, Finau triumphed at the Utah State Amateur Championship in 2006, getting the better of another future PGA Tour player, Daniel Summerhays, in the 36-hole championship match.
Finau's mother insisted that he attend West High School, even though the school didn't have a golf team. Meanwhile, across town, East High School had just won state titles in the sport. His mother was fully supportive of his love of golf but wanted to teach her son a lesson in loyalty.
This was the beginning of Finau doing things the hard way. However, West High School would revive their golf programme, with Finau and his brother starring for the team.
Finau had believed that college sport would be part of his future but as he was graduating, he received an offer he could not refuse. He was fronted a $50,000 stake by local businessmen to enter a made-for-TV exhibition in Las Vegas.
He performed well enough at the event to take home a significant cash prize. The support he received for that tournament and the early part of his professional career would later become the subject of a legal battle between Finau and one of his backers.
At just 17 years of age, Finau began life as a professional golfer having foregone his status as an amateur by accepting a cash prize, but there was work ahead of him to reach the promised land of the PGA Tour.
The early years as a pro
Finau's unique look on the course, coupled with his raw power, meant that he had no shortage of sponsors willing to hand him exemptions, but his progress to the big time was far from smooth.
He played his first PGA Tour event as a teenager, making the cut at the US Bank Championship in Milwaukee. He would finish in a tie for 70th place, but his booming drives ensured crowds followed him around the course.
Finau finished second in the Golf Channel's The Big Break competition reality show in 2009. The show saw aspiring golfers compete for a prize that included exemptions into individual events as well as full-season exemptions on feeder tours.
In 2011, Finau's mother Vena was killed in a car accident, with her death deeply affecting him. He was left hospitalized with a stomach ulcer by the ordeal, but would later say that he knew his mother wouldn't want him to give up on his dream. Finau wears green on every Sunday he plays in tribute to his mother.
He earned his way onto the 2013/14 Web.com Tour by finishing tied third in the qualifying school. A consistent Finau finished eighth in the regular season and 12th at the Web.com Tour finals to earn his PGA Tour Card for the 2014/15 season.
Tony's time on Tour
In his first full season on the PGA Tour, Finau managed five top-10 finishes and earned just over $2million. He also tied for 10th place at his very first PGA Championship in 2015.
Finau achieved his breakthrough PGA Tour win at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, defeating Steve Marino in a sudden-death playoff after missing a birdie putt at the 18th which would have clinched the title outright.
The following year he opted not to defend his title in the hope of being able to qualify for the 2017 WGC Match Play. However, he narrowly missed out on the event by not being one of the 64 highest-ranked players available.
Major moments and breaking into the top 10
Finau would play in all four Majors for the first time in his career in 2018. At the Masters, he sunk a hole-in-one during the par 3 competition only to dislocate his ankle while celebrating. He casually popped it back into place and entered the main tournament, shooting a final round of 66 to end in a tie for 10th.
He held a share of the lead going into the final round of the 2018 US Open, but shot a 2-over 72 after a double bogey on the 18th to end the competition in fifth place.
Finau recorded his third straight top-10 finish at a Major when he ended in a tie for ninth at the British Open before enduring a disappointing PGA Championship, where he finished tied 42nd.
He was Jim Furyk's captain's pick for the United States team at the 2018 Ryder Cup. In his singles match against Tommy Fleetwood, he handed the in-form Englishman a 6&4 defeat, but the United States would lose the Ryder Cup by some distance.
In October 2018, Finau came close to sealing a WGC victory at the HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai, but lost a playoff to Xander Schauffele.
He was in contention again at the 2019 Masters but fell away from eventual winner Tiger Woods in the final round and finished tied fifth. He went on to secure his best finish at a Major so far when finishing third at the British Open later in the year.
Finau again represented the United States in December 2019, taking part in the winning effort at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia.
He suffered another playoff loss early in 2020, going down to Webb Simpson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the first extra hole. He finished tied fourth and tied eighth at the PGA Championship and US Open respectively in 2020.
Finau shares the record for the most top-10 finishes over a four-year period without a tournament win.
In February 2021, he endured a third playoff defeat, losing to Max Homa at the Genesis Invitational on the second extra hole.
Tony Finau's Personal Life
Finau is an American national, but his family roots are of Tongan and Samoan extraction.
His father coached both him and his brother after they fell in love with the game thanks to Tiger Woods' 1997 Masters win.
Finau comes from a sporting family, borne out by the fact that his parents met at a co-ed volleyball tournament. His mother and father encouraged all of his athletic endeavors and did what they could to ensure he succeeded.
Finau's first sport was the traditional Samoan ritual of fire-knife dancing.
Like most people from Salt Lake City, Finau is a devout Mormon and is said to live by the mantra 'Faith. Family. Golf' in that order. Finau and his wife Alayna have four children and the family are active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He has established the Tony Finau Foundation, a charitable group that aims to empower young people and their families in the local community.
He is the cousin of NBA basketball player Jabari Parker and former NFL football player Haloti Ngata.
Tony Finau's Net Worth
Finau is believed to have a net worth of around $12million, with his consistent top-10 finishes bagging him plenty of prize money. He has already earned more than $20million on the Tour largely due to his impressive tally of 40 top-10 finishes.
Like his idol Tiger Woods, Finau has a multi-year deal with Nike. He is also supplied by Ping, with his G425 driver fitted with a custom green Mitsubishi shaft.
In 2020, a Utah businessman Molonai Hola filed a lawsuit against Finau claiming he was promised 20% of the golfer's career earnings in exchange for supporting him and his family during the early days of his career.