Chris Carlson
Tony Finau hits from the fourth tee during the third round for the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tony Finau started playing golf back in the summer of 1997 as a 7-year-old, in part because he was inspired by watching Tiger Woods win the Masters that spring in dominating fashion.

Now some two decades later, Finau will be playing in the final group of the Masters with his boyhood hero.

Finau, Woods and Francesco Molinari are paired together at 9:20 a.m. local time in the final group of the Masters, in which Molinari stands two shots ahead of Finau and Woods. It's an early tee time because of impending bad weather forecast for the area.

When Finau was interviewed after his round Saturday, the other two hadn’t finished yet, but he was asked about the possibility of playing with Woods in the final group of a major golf tournament.

“Oh man, it would be an unbelievable thing for me and something I’ve dreamed of for a long time,” he said. “I’ve dreamed of playing with him in a major championship and it would be a cool thing for me to play with him in the final group at the Masters. It would be a dream come true.”

Yes, that dream will come true Sunday at Augusta National.

Finau said he would have to change the routine at the house he’s sharing with several family members this week in Augusta because of the early tee time.

“It’s been some pretty late nights at our house,” he said. “It’s probably going to look a little earlier tonight. We’ll get some rest a little earlier.”

Finau did say that the early tee time was positive in that he doesn’t have to wait around all day before he plays.

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“I do think that’s nice not waiting around until 3 o’clock to tee off and not be kind of twiddling your thumbs,” he said. “But I’m going to have to play good golf tomorrow no matter what time I play.”

MASTERS NOTES: Over the past 33 years since the Official World Golf Rankings began, the average winner of the Masters has been ranked 15.3 and Finau’s current world ranking is No. 15 . . . Finau has now gone 27 holes without a bogey, third best in the field . . . Finau continues to lead the field in driving distance at 318.8 yards . . . Last year Finau finished in the top 10 of three majors and will be trying to duplicate the feat Sunday.