Utah’s Tony Finau wants more than just another top-10 finish in the Masters

(David J. Phillip | AP) Tony Finau watches his tee shot on the third hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Augusta, Ga.

Tony Finau is No. 10 in PGATour.com’s power rankings for the 2020 Masters. That’s an interesting number, because a fourth consecutive top-10 finish in a major tournament would give the West High School graduate a place in Utah golf history.

Billy Casper is the only player with Utah ties to have finished in the top 10 of four majors in a row, and that happened more than 50 years ago. Finau’s ambitions at Augusta National Golf Club are far above merely completing a “Tony Top-10 Slam” this week, though. Having witnessed every shot of Tiger Woods' final round in a victory last year, Finau said, “I know what it’s going to take to win the green jacket, and I think I have the game.”

Finau and 2003 champion Mike Weir of Sandy will tee off Thursday in a Masters that was moved to November from the traditional April dates due to COVID-19. Finau’s case of the coronavirus caused him to miss two tournaments in October, but he has returned to the tour with two solid performances and is primed for another major appearance.

The Masters is “easily my favorite tournament of the year — like, not even close,” Finau said on a recent podcast with his coach, Boyd Summerhays. “I already have amazing history there, and I haven’t even won a green jacket yet.”

Finau tied for 10th place in his Masters debut in 2018, when he overcame an ankle injury to shoot an opening-round 68 and then made six straight birdies on the back nine on Sunday. Last year, he took the lead with a third-round 64, then fell to a tie for fifth place with a closing 72 as Woods surged ahead.


Tony Finau – No. 10, 5:44 a.m. MST, with Patrick Reed and Paul Casey.

Mike Weir – No. 1, 6:17 a.m. MST, with Rafael Cabrera Bello and Matt Wallace.

Beginning in July 2019, Finau finished third in the British Open, then tied for fourth in the PGA Championship in August 2020 and tied for eighth in the U.S. Open in September.

In 1968-69, Casper tied for ninth in the U.S. Open, placed fourth in the British Open, tied for sixth in the PGA and tied for second at Augusta National (where he would win in 1970). Johnny Miller’s 1973 season featured three straight top-10s, including a U.S. Open victory. Weir’s ’03 season included a Masters win and two other top-10s in majors.

Finau said he began targeting the 2020 Masters right after the U.S. Open, although his schedule was disrupted when he tested positive for COVID-19 during the PGA Tour’s first of two events in Las Vegas. He was medically cleared to play the following week, but withdrew, citing a lack of energy.

“My experience with the virus was real … 10 straight days of body aches and headaches,” he said.

Finau came back in late October with a tie for 11th in the Zozo Championship at Sherwood in California and tied for 24th in the Houston Open, although he lost considerable ground with a final-round 71 this past Sunday.

From his years of experience at Augusta National, Finau believes he has a winning formula. If he can carry his drives 315 yards, many holes will become much more manageable.

“I have that extra [yardage] in the tank,” he said. "As a team, we’ve thought about it differently. ‘How can we make sure that we’re ready to take on Augusta National? How can we get better? How can we learn from the past?’ "

Weir also may benefit from a different approach to his 21st Masters appearance than in recent years, after missing the 36-hole cut in the last five visits to Augusta National. Having turned 50 this year and joined PGA Tour Champions, he has much more tournament experience lately. The former BYU golfer has posted three top-10 results in 10 events since the tour’s restart in late July, including a runner-up finish to Phil Mickelson in an October event in Virginia.