Tony Finau: Mormon Golfer
Tony Finau is a professional golfer and plays on the PGA Tour. In January 2018 he signed a multi-year agreement to use PING golf equipment.
In November 2022, he won his third PGA Tour event in the year, winning the Houston Open by four strokes, and giving him $1.5 million.
Finau previously had back-to-back wins at the tail end of the PGA Tour’s 2021-22 season — winning the 3M Open and the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the end of July.
According to the Associated Press, he now has four PGA Tour wins in his last 30 tournaments.
As a member of the 2021 Ryder Cup Champions, he and his teammates from the United States defeated their European rivals 19-9 at Wisconsin's Whistling Straits golf course. This was his second appearance for Team USA in the Ryder Cup. His PGA tour included a win in The Northern Trust tournament on Aug. 24, 2021, at New Jersey’s Liberty National Golf Club.
Finau made his first Masters appearance in April 2018. At the end of his third season on the PGA Tour, he ranked 19th in the FedEx Cup standings. Placing 49th in the 2017 world ranking made him eligible for all four of golf’s major tournaments in 2018 and most PGA Tour events. He finished the 2018 season with a career-high number 6 in the standings. His first PGA Tour title was the Puerto Rico Open in March 2016. His second PGA Tour title was The Northern Trust in August 2021. The year 2021 was his fifth year in a row to make the tour championship. During the five-year wait for another win, he was in the top 10 almost 40 times. In an Instagram post, he said, ""I'm grateful to the Lord for blessing my path. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and hard work have created miracles in my life."
He took first in the 2014 Stonebrae Classic in the Korn Ferry Tour. Associated with this tour, he said:
- I've got a great honesty story. You know, in 2014, I was on the cusp of getting my PGA Tour card. I was playing on this tour called the Korn Ferry Tour. And I hadn't quite locked up my card, it was the last term of the year, and I needed to place a certain–again, the top 25–to get my card. We get into the third round, which is on the weekend and to the 14th hole and I give over my shot and my ball–and I slipped my club behind the golf ball, and my ball had just barely moved and I–of course nobody is going to see this except for me, I just slightly place my club behind the ball.
- The rules in golf is if you cause your golf ball to move, whether it moves up, down, side to side, whatever. You know, you . . . that's a penalty shot. In that circumstance, that's a hard pill to swallow. I had just went through how many years of mini-tour golf? I'm on the cusp of becoming a PGA Tour player, and now I'm faced with this decision on, are you going to tell the truth, or are you going to let this slip by because you want to accomplish your goals and your dreams? You know, this small little thing, right?
- But it's been instilled in me since I was a kid that telling the truth always comes first, being honest always comes first. And so I called that shot on me, I call my competitors over and I say, "Hey, you know this, I caused this golf ball to move, unfortunately, I'm going to have to call a penalty shot on myself," place the ball, you know, I end up finishing that round. I end up having an amazing Sunday and I play and I get my PGA Tour card.
- And so that one shot didn't end up costing me anything. But it was–to me it was more that I was able to sleep that night knowing that I just did what was right, you know. And that's, and that's what I think in life, what we need. And golf has taught me so much about that and about who I am.
Finau was born on September 14, 1989, in Salt Lake City. He is of Tongan and American Samoan descent, the first person with this ancestry to play on the PGA Tour. He began playing golf at the age of eight when he noticed his younger brother Gipper’s success with the sport. Both brothers were coached by their dad and practiced in their garage and a 3-par golf course near their home; they used equipment purchased from Deseret Industries. Tony eventually became the junior world champion and the Utah State Amateur champion. After family prayer and fasting, he turned professional at the age of 17 instead of accepting scholarships to play basketball at Brigham Young University or University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Finau is a cousin to basketball player Jabari Parker.
He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Alayna, are the parents of five children.
He also heads the Tony Finau Foundation, which gives to his local community and helps underprivileged youth realize their potential. He wants the foundation to create a golf academy where youth will learn integrity and honesty. He created it in honor of his mother, who died in a car accident in 2011.
He was asked in an interview early in 2021, "What's your purpose?" His response was, "It's to be a light in the world. It's to have so much joy emanating from me, coming out of me that everyone in my midst can't help but feel it." He later elaborated on an LDS Living "All In" podcast:
- The ultimate Light of the world is our Savior. I try to, if you have enough of the Savior inside of you, I think you can share that light. But I think that's such a . . . that's just an easy way for me to go about my business, is to always know that I try to be a light to all and to everyone that I come in contact with. Am I all the time? No. But that is something that I strive to do with everything that I say and the way that I act. And so I have enough light in me through everything that I do, not only in public, but in private, making sure the things that I do, I'm filled with the light of Christ that when I'm out and about people can feel that I've been around people that have this light, you know, and this joy about them that is exactly what I said, it comes out of them. And you can feel it, just by being around them.
- I think people, true disciples of our Savior, I feel that when I'm in the midst of people that have that and I want to be that person where you know, people are like, "Yeah, I feel that when I'm around Tony Finau." It's something that I strive to do, just to be a light to all that I come in contact with. It starts from within and having the Savior kind of live within you.
In an October 2022 Facebook post, Elder Neil L. Andersen praised Finau as one who “stand[s] out from the world.” In the post, Elder Andersen mentioned his October 2022 general conference address, in which he spoke about how Church members can be distinct, uncommon, and special—without isolating themselves from others who believe differently. Elder Andersen then wrote about how Finau is “an example . . . of being unashamed of being a member of the restored gospel.”
- It should be no surprise that a person who is so devoted to the Savior and to his family would also be recognized as the “nicest” player on the PGA Tour after an extensive survey of fellow golfers, caddies, media members, and golf executives by Golf Digest. He was featured on the cover of the August Golf Digest as having the respect and admiration of his fellow professionals. The light of Christ is evident in his life—both on and off the course.
- We won’t all be as well known as Tony Finau; however, we can all shine the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go. As it says in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Finau won his third PGA Tour victory, coming from five shots behind the leader to win the tournament going away at TPC Twin Cities Golf Club. He shot a 4-under 67 to finish at 17 under par, three shots clear of Sungjae Im and Emiliano Grillo, and earned $1.35 million for the victory. It was the largest final-round comeback in 3M Open history.
On April 30, 2023, Finau won the Mexico Open, giving him his sixth career win.