Two rounds and a dislocated ankle later and Finau still in contention

‘He was in pain, nothing overwhelming but even if it was he would have made it to the first tee’

Tony Finau rolls his ankle as he celebrates his hole in one during the par-three competition at Augusta on Wednesday. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

It should not have taken the extreme circumstances of recent days for Tony Finau to be afforded widespread attention. Still, it seemed somehow fitting that the 28-year-old's Masters debut had a dramatic backdrop. That the American remained a key part of the equation on day two, a treacherous day two during which standing still represented progress, was logical given the tournament prelude.

What happened to Finau in Wednesday’s par-three competition is already the stuff of legend. With his wife and four children looking on, the world No 34 produced a memorable hole in one at the seventh. His instinctive, joy-filled reaction was to race in celebration down the fairway.

A sharp U-turn caused the subsequent problem, to put it mildly. Finau landed on his left ankle, dislocated it and immediately slotted the joint back into place.

Finau thus found himself suddenly in the midst of mental turmoil. “The pain was excruciating but I played on [in the par-three competition] because I wanted to know if I could still hit shots. It was probably one of my most embarrassing moments.” Probably? One is left to ponder what on earth could come close.


Finau’s reaction to this episode has been incredible. He signed for an opening round of 69, with that prominent leaderboard position maintained in round two. Finau has not taken a single painkiller, with strapping of the injured ankle proving to be sufficient so far. “I have tape on it, a lot of tape,” he said.

Little nudge

Greg Bodine, Finau's caddie, said: "He knew there were a lot of people looking at him, that there was a lot of attention on him. He didn't just want to lie there and wait for an ambulance. So he just gave the ankle a little nudge. When it popped back in, he said feeling and the pain briefly went away. He knew he did the right thing.

“He still isn’t really putting any weight on his left side. He is an athlete, he is making it work. The last thing I told him on the 18th green after the first round was how much heart he has. You can’t not have heart and play a round like that. He was in pain, nothing overwhelming but even if it was he would have made it to the first tee. He just wanted to play in the Masters. The cherry on top is that he is competing.”

Finau’s back story is a fascinating one. Hailing from Utah, he is of American Samoan and Tongan descent and the first man of such background to compete on the PGA Tour. By his teenage years Finau was sleeping overnight in the family car during junior golf events.

“Waiting for another opportunity to play in my first Masters, whether it was next year or another time, was going to be really hard for me to swallow,” Finau added.

Very rare

“The crazy thing about a hole in one is it’s very, very rare. So you just never know. It’s just a spur-of-the-moment thing. I have no idea why I just started sprinting. I saw the ball disappear. It was my first par-three contest, my first Masters, I made a hole in one, so there was a lot that went into that. I just took off. I noticed my family was behind me, I turned around. I won’t be doing the backpedal for the rest of my career.

“My wife immediately said: ‘Hey, are you okay?’ She was worried, and I think most of my family was, they were very worried about me because they saw exactly what happened. You know, even from a distance, I broke my foot, or it came out of place, and I was able to push it back into place. They were very worried and so was I.”

They need not have been. Finau’s response sums up his character.