The long-hitting Tony Finau burst onto the scene first on Golf Channel’s Big Break and was introduced to the world earlier this summer at Chambers Bay. The 25-year-old shot a Friday 66 to jump into a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship. Don’t know Finau? Now you do.
1) He hits the ball really, really far
Finau is eighth this season in driving distance, averaging more than 308 yards off the tee. His accuracy leaves something to be desired (185th), but when you hit it that far, you deal with a few missed fairways. This week at Whistling Straits he has pulled driver early and often, carding nine birdies and one eagle. The main reason for the immense length off the tee? His crazy club head speed (124 mph) is good enough for second on Tour, .30 faster than Bubba Watson.
2) His cousin is Jabari Parker
Finau looks like he could step out on the basketball court and not look out of place as a starting shooting guard in the NBA. At 6-foot-4, he towers over most Tour pros. He could have played college hoops but instead joined the crew of the Big Break out of high school. Jabari went to college for a year, playing basketball at Duke before he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Tony’s father, Kelepi, is the first cousin of Parker’s mother, Lola Finau-Parker.
“I picked golf,” Finau told Golf Magazine’s Jessica Marksbury. “And I excelled at golf faster than I excelled even at basketball. I played basketball first. And I just noticed that I was different in golf. I feel like I had an advantage. Could I make it to Division I? Sure. Could I play in the NBA? I don’t know. I just loved playing golf.”
3) He’s the first Tongan-Samoan on the PGA Tour
Finau made history when he earned his Tour card as the first Tongan-Samoan represented at the highest level of golf. The 25-year-old has played in 27 events already this season. He has three children under the age of 3, the youngest being born in March. He’s grown up quickly. After skipping out on college golf, Finau made it to the 12-man finals on the Big Break.
4) He once schooled some kids in pick-up hoops
We’ll let Finau tell this awesome story.
“Last year, I’m playing in Valdosta, Georgia, in a Web.com Tour event. Three of us decided to go to the YMCA and just shoot around. We’re not going to play. But of course when we get there, our competitive juices are going. And there’s a pickup game going on with a bunch of the local kids that play at the YMCA. And there’s no rims open. The only way you can play is if you actually play in the pickup game. So I was like, ‘Hey guys. You guys want to jump in? Let’s just play one game.’ So we lace up and we start playing. Anyways, I just start draining threes like it’s nobody’s business, I’m like Stephen Curry out there, right? Once I got past half court, it was green light, shoot, right? So anyways, I’m just making everything. We were running the gym. Anyways, three, four games in, we won. And all the kids come up to me, they’re like, ‘Where do you play at? What college do you play at?’ And all this stuff. And I’m just like, ‘Actually, I’m here for a golf tournament. I don’t play basketball.’ And they’re like, ‘Stop lying. Stop lying.’ I played good basketball that day for sure.”