By Randy Dodson
Fresh off what amounts to a T17 finish at the World Golf Championship’s Dell Technologies Match Play and a week before he drives up Magnolia Lane at Augusta National Golf Club, Utah’s Tony Finau is feeling pretty optimistic.
His Match Play finish kept the 6-foot-4 PGA Tour pro from Lehi, Utah in the top 10 of the FedExCup rankings with 895 points. He is the only player in the top 10 without a win this season. Pocketing nearly $98,000 Sunday, Finau remains in the top 12 on the PGA Tour’s Official Money list, just shy of $2.1 million in 11 events this season.
Of course the long-bombing Finau has a firm grip on perhaps the one stat that most causal golf fans associate him with; Finau’s 322.7-yard driving distance average is the Tour’s best.
That’s a lot of positive numbers as he looks ahead to the Masters and his first appearance at golf’s first Major of the year.
“The 1997 Masters was really what got me into golf. I started playing golf in the summer of that year. Watching Tiger win, and the way he won, is a big part of the reason I play,” Finau said as he begins his preparation for this week’s Houston Open.
As he checks off another “dream come true,” Finau, who wears green on final-round Sundays, has dreamt of slipping on the coveted green jacket presented to all Masters Champions.
“Yeah I like the color green, I wear it a lot. It would be great to wear that green jacket. It would be a dream come true for sure.”
Finau’s week at Augusta National will begin when he and his family arrive next Sunday. With only eight tickets to spread among his usually large traveling posse of family and friends, Finau will have his wife and kids present to caddy for him during the Par 3 contest.
“I’m looking forward to the Par 3 tournament, the atmosphere, the tradition and having my family with me. My wife and kids will share caddy duties. It will be a good time.”
As for getting around the golf course Finau has done his homework. He’s played five practice rounds and will get in a few more next week, “…hopefully with Tiger or Phil Mickelson,” as he completes his game plan prep.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I know the spots I have to hit to and if I can do that then I know I can get around the golf course pretty well. I know I can contend.”
Finau is in the right position to add his name to a short but significant list of Masters participants with Utah ties and he’s optimistic about his chances of slipping on the green jacket as Billy Casper and Mike Weir have done.
The Masters Tournament begins April 5th at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The final round is April 8th as the world’s best golfers play for a purse of $11,000,000.
Randy Dodson is the publisher of Fairways magazine, the official magazine of the Utah Golf Association.
Photo Courtesy: Ping