Tony Finau caps wild Masters Week with '19 berth
Tony Finau's Masters week began with a bang, a hole-in-one in Wednesday's Par-3 Contest with his family by his side.
It ended with an even bigger thrill, a berth in the 2019 Masters.
Thanks to a streak of six straight birdies Sunday on the second nine, Finau made a stirring charge to clinch a top-10 finish and a spot in next year's tournament. Finau fired 6-under 66 and finished 7 under for the tournament to tie for 10th with Dustin Johnson at 281.
"No doubt in my mind (it's bigger)," Finau said of which meant more, the ace or the berth. "The hole-in-one was spectacular, and maybe the most embarrassing moment in my life. I got a lot of cool coverage from it and the reach from what happened to me was pretty incredible, and I wouldn't change that.
"But I was able to overcome it. Who know if I'm healthy if I play better or I play worse. All I know is I did my best for the circumstances I had and came out with a nice finish this week."
Finau put this week's Masters appearance in serious jeopardy when, celebrating his ace, he dislocated his left ankle, snapping it back into place immediately after it happened. After getting treatment overnight, he teed off Thursday and rode adrenaline to an opening 68.
The demanding walk Augusta National Golf Club offers began to take its toll, however. Finau limped his way to a second-round 74 and third-round 73 to start Sunday's final round 1 under.
He was still on that number when he made birdie on No. 12, hitting it to 10 feet.
At that point, the adrenaline kicked back in.
"It carried me a lot, especially on the par 5s, to take care of them the way I did," Finau said. "I was struggling."
Finau went from struggling to sizzling. He followed with birdie on 12, a two-putt birdie on 13 and then hit to five feet on 14 for his third straight birdie.
He wasn't done. Finau two-putted for birdie on 15 and then followed an ace by playing partner Charley Hoffman on 16 with a birdie after having hit to four feet.
Finau saved his best for 17. Blocking his drive into the right pines, Finau had to get creative to reach the green. Hitting a huge fade with a 5-iron, he stuck the shot to six feet and made the putt.
"It was the shot of the week," Finau said. "I've learned to be very creative because I never hit it straight when I was a kid. It's something that I take pride in. As long as I have a swing, I have a shot. ... I would've taken a four, but a three was better."
Finau nearly made it seven in a row, but his 19-foot putt on the final green came up inches short.
"I put my head down and wanted a good finish," said Finau, who added he was "100 percent" focused on getting into the top 12. "I guess you can say I was in a zone to finish that way. I hit some great shots and made some great putts."
Finau is ready for some much-needed rest for his ankle. But he can rest easy knowing he'll be back at Augusta National next April.
"With the adversity I was faced with on Wednesday to how I finished my week today, you can't make this stuff up," he said. "There's no way I could've dreamed waking up Thursday morning that I would have played this well because the last thing my mind was focused on was playing golf.
"There's no way I could have dreamed that anything that happened would've happened. But I wouldn't have it any other way. It's unbelievable."