Get to know the phenomenal Tony Finau


Tony Finau – named the nicest guy on Tour in 2022 by Golf Digest

In India Golf Weekly’s ongoing series profiling interesting players, we have recently covered British Open winner Cam Smith of Australia, 20 yr old PGA Tour winner Tom Kim of Korea and this week we cover 6 ft 4 inch tall American Tony Finau, one of the hottest golfers on the planet right now. 

Finau won back-to-back PGA Tour events in July and is currently ranked 8th in the FedEx Cup standings heading into the Tour Championship. The 32- year-old is also ranked No. 14 in the world rankings and is consistently on the leader boards at the major championships. 

Here are five things you might like to know about Finau:

Finau is of Tongan and Samoan descent

Tony’s father, Kelepi ‘Gary’ Finau, was born in Tonga. He was 11 years old when his family emigrated to the United States. Tony’s full name is Milton Pouha ‘Tony’ Finau, and he was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a practising Mormon and told in 2016 that he enjoys being involved in church activities and doing things for his community. Tony is married to Alayna Galea-i-Finau, and they have five children.

He is the first player of Tongan and Samoan ancestry to play on the PGA Tour. “Golf in the Polynesian culture was just so out of the zone,” Tony told ESPN. “Nobody plays golf. Everybody thought only girls or old rich white men play that sport.”



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His mother Ravena unfortunately died in a car accident in 2011, so she never got to see her son win on the PGA Tour.

He learned to play golf in a garage

Tony’s father worked the night shift at Delta Airlines and the family did not have enough money to spend on new equipment or green fees. Still, Tony’s parents encouraged both him and his older brother to play the game.

According to the Golf Channel, Kelepi bought a used 6-iron for 75 cents, a used putter for $1, and a bag for 50 cents, all from the local Salvation Army. Then he installed a nylon net and a mattress with targets spray painted on it. Tony and his younger brother Gipper would hit balls off pieces of carpet at the targets. Kelepi also bought a cheap camcorder and would show the boys footage of their swings before they went to bed.

“I didn’t know until I was 15 or 16 years old my dad had no clue what he was doing,” Finau told the Deseret News in 2018.

He marks his golf balls with his kids’ initials



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In a video posted on’s YouTube channel in May this year, Finau revealed that he uses his children’s initials to mark his golf balls. It’s a way for him to let them know that he is thinking about them even when he is competing on the course.

He chooses the ball depending on whether he is performing well or not. If the ball with his youngest’s child’s initials winds up in a sand bunker or two, or finds the water, he will switch it out for a ball with a different child’s initials on it and see how that one performs.

“I end up having a favourite son or daughter by the end of the week,” he says in the video.

Golf Digest named him the nicest guy on Tour in 2022

For a few years now Golf Digest magazine has been conducting a survey of the nicest players on tour. In 2019, the last year the survey was done, Ricky Fowler emerged as the nicest. This year, it was Tony Finau.

“If I have a conversation with a person, and I leave thinking I’ve brightened their day just a little bit somehow, that makes me happy,’” Finau told the magazine. Peter Malnati was second on the list, while Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy were third and fourth, respectively. Fowler, who topped the poll the last time, rounded out the top 5.

His first and second wins came 5 years apart

Finau won his first tournament at the Puerto Rico Open in 2016. He wouldn’t win again until the Northern Trust Open in 2021, a gap of 1,975 days. During that span he racked up 40 top-10 finishes, including eight second-place finishes. Questions about whether he would ever win again followed him from tournament to tournament, but Finau persevered through it all.


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“It’s hard losing and it’s hard losing in front of the world,” he said at the time. “I’ve done it already a couple times this year. That made me hungrier. That’s what it does.

If it doesn’t discourage you, it makes you more hungry. You guys keep telling me, when are you going to win again? It makes me more hungry. It all equals to now it’s time for me to win again. I hope I don’t have to wait another five years for the next one.”

He didn’t. Less than a year later Finau won for the third time and a week later he won for the fourth time, making the 2021-22 season the first in which he has won multiple tournaments.

Watch out for Tony Finau this week at the PGA Tour’s season ending Tour Championship. His distinctive short backswing and smiling face are almost always on screen as he habitually lights up leaderboards almost every week he plays.


Photo – PGA Tour

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