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Utahn native Finau says Ryder Cup opportunity a ‘dream’

Sep 27, 2018, 1:11 PM | Updated: 1:20 pm

Tony Finau of the US is watched by Bubba Watson of the US as he plays from the 9th tee during a pra...

Tony Finau of the US is watched by Bubba Watson of the US as he plays from the 9th tee during a practice round at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. The 42nd Ryder Cup will be held in France from Sept. 28-30, 2018 at Le Golf National. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

PARIS, FRANCE — The Ryder Cup is in Paris this week and Utah’s Tony Finau is part of Team USA, consisting of twelve members that will take on Europe.

Finau is a West High alum and is the first native Utahn to be selected for a Ryder Cup team.

Speaking in front of the media, Finau was asked what the opportunity meant for him.

“To have this experience this week and to be with this group of guys and the captains that we have has already been a dream for me,” Finau said. “I just want to bring my best self this weekend.”

The Road to Ryder

Finau’s Ryder selection is definitely an opportunity of a lifetime after turning pro at age 17, where he would begin to tackle the mini-tour circuit.

“Mini-tour life isn’t a glamorous life. The professional golf life, if you’re not on the PGA Tour, is very tough financially,” Finau said during the Ryder Cup media day.  “Getting through qualifying school and having established a place to play through qualifying school was a huge moment for me as well.”

After finishing third at the 2013 Web.com Tour qualifying school, he earned his Web.com Tour card for 2014 and would eventually lead to his first title win at the Stonebrae Classic in August 2014.

Tony Finau hits his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang) (Photo: Ryan Kang, Associated Press)

Tony Finau hits his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

The other professional win on Finau’s record came from his victory at the Puerto Rico Open in March 2016, scoring a birdie on the third extra hole after missing an earlier putt for the victory on the 72nd green.

Fast forwarding to 2018, Finau has finished second in three separate tournaments, including the Safeway Open, Genesis Open and Northern Trust but hit a road bump when he dislocated his ankle while celebrating a hole-in-one on the eighth hole during the Par-3 Contest at the Masters.

He would later finish 5th at the U.S. Open in 2018, which his highest finish in a major tournament and to date, has finished in the top 10 on ten separate events this year.

Finau’s Humble Beginnings

Finau was born in Salt Lake City, UT and grew up in Rose Park, where once a week, he would go to the city’s golf course.

“I’m extremely proud of where I am. Just having a spot on this team, it’s been a dream of mine since I started playing the game at 8-years-old,” Finau said when asked about his backstory during his press conference.

“Golf is an extremely expensive sport and growing up, I didn’t come from a lot but my parents have sacrificed a lot just for me to compete and my goals were their goals, so my family is a big part of why I’m here.”

“It’s cool to look back and reflect on where I’ve come from and now, part of this Ryder Cup and this team is pretty special for me and my family,” he added.

When asked where he gets most of his confidence from, Finau was quick to credit being chosen to the American team.

“In my golf career, this is up there, making this team,” Finau said. “You look at the guys that are on our team, you look at the guys that on the European team, to throw my name in the mix is something that is really cool for me.”

PGA golfer Tony Finau poses for photos at his home in Lehi on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018.

PGA golfer Tony Finau poses for photos at his home in Lehi on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018.

The Ryder Cup has also made a major impact on Finau, dating back to the first Ryder Cup he watched when he was just a kid.

“It’s hard to overlook the 1999 Ryder Cup. I started to play golf in the Summer of ’97 and just a couple years later, it’s still one of the coolest moments I think for our American team,” he said regarding the famous 1999 American team comeback.

Finau continued, “For me, starting and playing and seeing how excited they were, I started to look at the Ryder Cup as a goal of mine, to be on that team and to share some of those memories.”

The 42nd Ryder Cup kicks off on Sept. 28th and coverage is set to begin at 12 am MT on the official Ryder Cup website.

 

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Utahn native Finau says Ryder Cup opportunity a ‘dream’