Top Samoan golfer reflects on historic Masters
Professional golfer, Tony Finau, has never experienced anything like the final round of the Masters Tournament this year, where he equalled his best ever finish at a major championship.
The 29-year-old of Samoan and Tongan descent finished in a tie for fifth at the Masters, two shots off the winner Tiger Woods.
Finau was the first golfer of Tongan and Samoan descent to join the PGA Tour when he did so in 2014.
The fifth placed finish earned the world number 15 ranked golfer prize money of over one million tala.
Finau played with Woods and Francesco Molinari in the final group on the Sunday, having been in the leading trio after three rounds.
He said playing with Tiger in a major after what the legendary golfer had been through was quite special.
“Playing with Tiger and being in the final group at the Masters is something I dreamed of for a long time.
“For it to become a reality, and just to have an opportunity to win the Masters is something special.
“The atmosphere was very electric and even though I wasn’t able to pull it off, it was cool to witness history up close.
“When I knew I wasn’t going to win, walking down 18, it was cool to see him have his moment and to be the first person to congratulate him was something I’ll never forget, it was quite special."
Finau earned his spot in that final group by shooting 64 on the Saturday, which tied the lowest round at the tournament and is just one more than the all-time course record of 63.
“I had a chance to shoot 29 on the front, which is something that’s never been done," he said.
“I played really nicely all day and it was great, I needed to shoot something special to be in contention."
Having had a chance to reflect on the tournament, Finau said while everyone including himself is rightly in awe of Wood's performance, he thinks with better execution down the stretch it could have been him taking home the green jacket.
“I felt like I could’ve won the Masters, I gave myself the chance.
“I had an incredible experience and a great week overall, but I still have some learning to do, some growing to do if I’m going to win major championships.
“I look at it both in a good light and in a light in that I still need to get better."
Finau said he can take a lot of confidence the result, particularly given the circumstances of that final round.
“I dunno if I’ll ever play in another atmosphere like the one I played in last week.
“I’ll never be under more pressure, or have more eyes on me."
He said the best golf he has played all year was at the Masters.
“It’s a great way to really turn around my season.
“I’ve played ok this calendar year, nothing special really, especially coming off the year I had last year and my Ryder Cup performance.
“We’ve got three majors still to come and a lot of big tournaments coming up so I look forward to them.
“I like where my game is at, I’m feeling more comfortable."
This weekend Finau is playing in a team with fellow American Kyle Stanley at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, with the next major - the PGA Championship - coming up in three weeks.
“It's going to be a fun summer and I think I can piggyback off that Masters performance and play well the rest of the season."