AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tony Finau’s long-anticipated initial Masters appearance is up in the air after an unfortunate injury that occurred Wednesday while he was celebrating a hole-in-one during the Par-3 Contest.
For the native Utahn, his moment of celebration turned into a disaster of sorts when he inadvertently rolled his left ankle, while running backward. He appeared to temporarily dislocate the ankle and he knelt down on the fairway and appeared to put it back in place, before limping up the fairway.
By the end of his round, two holes later, he appeared to be walking normally, but he was whisked past the media area and not allowed to speak because of a “medical issue,” and his golf coach Boyd Summerhays joined him on the cart to seek medical attention.
Finau wasn’t available for comment, but Summerhays said Wednesday evening that his status was up in the air for his 10:43 a.m. tee time.
“The X-ray was negative, so that was good,” Summerhays said. “He’ll have an MRI at 7 a.m. tomorrow and then it will be a ‘game-time’ decision.”
Finau did send a tweet on Wednesday evening, saying, "Crazy day. Thanks for thoughts of concern, messages and prayers from all. I'm optimistic."
Up until the moment he rolled his ankle, things couldn’t have gone better for Finau this week.
He’s had several members of his family on hand watching him play practice rounds, including siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles with many sporting “Team Finau” T-shirts. His wife, Alayna, was his official caddie for the Par-3 contest Wednesday and each of his four children was adorned in white caddie jumpsuits with “Finau” on the back as they ran around on the greens and between holes as other children do during the annual contest.
Finau teed off right behind the eminent threesome of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson, who have a combined 11 Masters titles among them, so he had a lot of spillover from the fans of that group, watching his shots.
After starting off with a bogey at the first hole, Finau settled down with some pars and made a nice birdie at No. 5 when his tee shot hit the pin and ended up three feet in front of the pin. Then came the dramatics at No. 7.
Finau hit his wedge shot at the 115-yard hole, some 40 feet above and to the right, up on the fringe and watched as the ball rolled swiftly down the slope, hit the pin and settled into the cup. After seeing it disappear in the hole, Finau went charging up the fairway about 30 feet with his hands raised in the air and as he started running backward to the tee, to watch the crowd going wild, he rolled his ankle.
Finau finished out his round and one of his cousins said it looked like he was “toughing it out” by not limping, but that he could have been in more pain than he showed.
Finau is due to tee off Thursday at 10:43 a.m. MT with former champion Bernhard Langer and Yuta Ikeda. On Friday, the same threesome is due to tee off at 7:36 a.m. MT.
The other Utahn in the field, Sandy’s Mike Weir, will tee off at 6:52 a.m. MT Thursday and 9:37 a.m. Friday.