AUGUSTA, Ga. — Ever since he came to the Masters for the first time in 2018, Tony Finau has made his presence known at Augusta National. He embarrassingly hurt himself celebrating a hole-in-one during the par-3 contest, he tied a Masters record with six straight birdies, and he played in the final group with Tiger Woods the year Woods made his comeback with his 15th major victory.   

Here’s a closer look at Finau’s top seven Masters moments:

The sprained ankle

Tony Finau appears to twist his ankle after reacting to his hole-in-one on the seventh hole during the par-3 contest at the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. | Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

It was perhaps the most memorable moment of the 2018 Masters when Finau sprained his ankle after making a hole-in-one during the Wednesday par-3 tournament. At the uphill No. 7 hole, Finau hit the right side of the green and his ball rolled nearly 50 feet across the green into the hole for an ace. Finau started celebrating like a receiver after scoring a touchdown, backpedaling with his hands above his head. All of a sudden his left ankle gave way, turning sharply out of joint. Finau knelt down and put it back in place and then limped the last three holes. 

“It is what it is, one of my most embarrassing moments and a scary moment at the same time,” he said afterward.

As for putting his ankle back in place, he said, “I saw where it was and I knew where it needed to be.”

Opening-round magic

Tony Finau chips to the 13th green during the first round at the Masters Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. Finau carded a first-round 68, one day after dislocating his ankle while celebrating a hole-in-one. | Matt Slocum, Associated Press

There was a real chance Finau wouldn’t be able to play in the 2018 first round with an extremely swollen ankle. 

He said he could “barely walk” at first, but plowed through. He bogeyed the first hole, but birdied the second hole and added birds at 4, 8, 9, 13 and 15 and just one more bogey at 14. Somehow, he finished the day with a 68, which left him in a second place tie, two shots behind Jordan Spieth.

“To me, it’s nothing short of a miracle,” he said that day. “My foot was out of place 24 hours ago and I sit here in second place at the Masters.”

Six straight

Tony Finau hits from a bunker on the second hole during the final round at the Masters, Sunday, April 8, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. Finau carded six straight birdies on the back nine to earn himself a tie for 10th place — and an invitation to the next year’s Masters. | David Goldman, Associated Press

When he qualified for his first Masters, Finau wasn’t a top-15 player in the world as he has been for the past couple of years. In fact, he wasn’t solidly in the top 50 and without any PGA Tour wins, he wasn’t guaranteed a return to Augusta.

Making the top 12 qualifies a golfer for the following year’s Masters, but after nine holes of Sunday’s final round, Finau was well outside the top 12 at even par for the tourney. Then he suddenly caught fire on the back nine, reeling off six straight birdies from holes 11 through 17 to finish with a 6-under-par 282 in a tie for 10th place 

“I walked off the 72nd hole like I’d just won the Green Jacket,” he said of his finish.

The ‘shot’

The last of his six straight birdies in 2018, at 17, was a thing of beauty. After his drive came to rest behind a tree in the right rough, Finau didn’t have a direct shot to the green. He had to hit a 5-iron with a large bend around the trees. His ball rolled onto the green and within 4 feet of the hole, from where he sank the birdie putt.

“That was the shot of the week. I had to hit a 40- or 50-yard fade of 185 yards,” he said. “I would have taken a four, but a three is better.”

Friday 66

Tony Finau reacts after missing an eagle putt on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters on Friday, April 9, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. Even though he missed that putt, he made enough others during the round to post a 66, which allowed him to play the weekend, where he would ultimately finish 10th. | David J. Phillip, Associated Press

In danger of missing the cut after an opening-round 74 in 2021, Finau came back with the best score of the second round to move into contention in a tie for sixth place. He made an eagle at 2 and birdies at 6, 8, 9 and 10, bogey at 12, birdies at 14 and 15, before making bogey at No. 18 when he hit a fairway bunker and left a 5-footer short.

He ended up in 10th place overall after shooting 73 and 72 the last two rounds.

Saturday 64

Tony Finau walks to the 15th green during the third round of the Masters Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. The Utah golfer was in the zone all day, posting an 8-under 64, missing the course record by a shot. | David J. Phillip, Associated Press

In 2019, after rounds of 71 and 70, Finau told the one reporter who wanted to talk to him that he felt he had a 65 or 66 in him for the weekend. He went one better by posting an 8-under 64 in the third round, missing the course record by a shot. He tied the front-nine record of 30 with birdies at 1, 2, 3 and 6 and an eagle at No. 8 when his 4-iron from 260 yards ended up a foot away. Then on the back nine he birdied 13 and 15.

Final-round Tigermania

After his 64, Finau earned a spot in the final group Sunday with Tiger Woods and leader Francesco Molinari. Because of impending bad weather, tee times were moved up five hours and players were grouped in threesomes off both nines.

Finau stayed with the leaders on the opening nine, but a plop in the water at No. 12 ruined his chances and he finished two back of Woods in a tie for fifth.  

“You can’t beat the experience, you can’t pay for it,” Finau said of playing in front of the raucous Tigermania crowd. “For me, it was fun to be in that type of atmosphere.”

Woods had praise for Finau afterward, saying, “He’s starting to piece together a game that’s going to contend week-in and week-out. With his length it’s such an asset in today’s game that he’ll win multiple tournaments and I’m sure a major championship is definitely in his future.”

Tony Finau hits from the third tee during the final round for of Masters Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. Finau finished two strokes back of eventual winner Tiger Woods, but will forever cherish the opportunity of playing in the final group of the day alongside him. | David J. Phillip, Associated Press