AUGUSTA, Ga. — As Tony Finau got to the No. 7 tee at the Masters Par-3 Contest Wednesday afternoon, he was ready.
When it was his turn to hit, he started walking toward the tee, then turned around when his wife/caddy, Alayna, beckoned him. She pulled a large green shoe out of a bag and Tony sat on the grass, took off the white Nike golf shoe on his left foot and laced up a large green one that seemed to stretch halfway up his calf.
The fans around the tee got a good laugh out of the theatrics, which recalled last year’s incident at the seventh hole when Finau made a hole-in-one and promptly severely rolled his ankle as he was celebrating the ace.
“It was a fun thing — Nike really had some good ideas and I was all for it,” said Finau, who wore the big green shoe the rest of the round. “A lot of things I got from last year came from that hole, so we figured we had to do something.”
Nike even made shirts with a green “boot” in place of the usual Nike logo, which Finau and others in his party, including his coach, Boyd Summerhays, were wearing.
As for his tee shot at the 115-yard hole, it went long and right, just as it did last year, but this time, the ball rolled back down the hill, slid past the cup and ended up 10 feet below the hole.
Otherwise it was a fairly uneventful afternoon for Finau, who made all pars in the par-3 contest, including the final two holes when he let his oldest son, 7-year-old Jraice, putt out.
Earlier in the week, Finau had joked that “maybe I won’t hit at the flag in the par-3 contest,” and that if he made a hole-in-one he wouldn’t do any running this time.
His worst tee shot Wednesday came at the 91-yard third hole when he hit a fat wedge shot that came up short of the green, some 60 feet short of the hole. “I can’t risk making a hole in one,” he quipped to nearby fans after the poor shot.
With his wife caddying for him and his four children running around — at one point his 2-year-old picked up one of the foot-long wooden tee markers, handed it to his mother and said, “Look, I got a stick” — Finau had a fun 75 minutes out on the beautiful Masters par-3 course.
“It was just a cool day, to be out here with my kids and family,” he said.
Finau will tee off Thursday in the ninth group of the day at 9:58 a.m. local time in a group that includes 2017 champion Sergio Garcia of Spain and 2016 British Open champ Henrik Stenson of Sweden. The following day the trio tee off at 12:54 p.m. local time.
Finau is hoping to pick up from where he left off last year when he birdied holes 12 through 17 in the final round and just missed making birdie on No. 18, which would have tied a Masters record for most consecutive birdies.
“I have confidence on that back nine,” he said. “If I have an opportunity to win a green jacket, I have great memories of how I finished last year. I had a chance for seven birdies in a row and having that in the memory bank is going to serve as a positive for me this year and the years to come. It’s a course that I can finish well on and I proved that to myself last year.”Comment on this story
MASTERS NOTES: England's Matt Wallace won the Par-3 Contest Wednesday with a 5-under-par score, defeating Sandy Lyle in a playoff. Wallace made a hole-in-one at No. 8, one of five aces on the day . . . Devon Bling, a 19-year-old who plays for UCLA, became the youngest player to ever make a hole-in-one in the Par-3 Contest with an ace at No. 7 . . . Sandy's Mike Weir, the 2003 champion, tees off in the third group of the day at 8:52 a.m. local time with Ireland's Shane Lowry and amateur Kevin O'Connell.