SALT LAKE CITY — Utah professional golfer Tony Finau is being sued by Molonai Hola, a former business associate, for more than $16 million.
The suit, which was filed last week in 3rd District Court, claims Hola paid Finau and his family’s expenses for several years with the agreement of being paid back, but was never compensated.
Hola became acquainted with the Finau family around 1997, and as the owner of Icon Sports began financing expenses for Tony and his younger brother Gipper, according to the suit.
Also named in the lawsuit are Finau’s brother, Gipper, his father, Gary, his agent Christopher Armstrong and the Wasserman Media Group.
When reached for comment on the lawsuit, Armstrong said in a statement, “We are aware of the matter and have the utmost faith in the legal process. We will not be making further comment at this time.”
The Finau brothers had begun playing golf as youngsters and quickly became phenoms in junior golf. Tony Finau won his age division at the Junior World Tournament in San Diego when he was 12 and won the Utah State Amateur at age 16 in 2006. Also in 2006, Gipper Finau played in a Nationwide Tour event in Utah and became the second-youngest golfer to ever make a cut at a PGA Tour event.
Both of the Finaus turned professional in 2007 while they were still teenagers at West High in order to play in the Ultimate Game at the Wynn Las Vegas Golf Club, which featured a $2 million first prize. Tony Finau made it to the final 12 and earned $100,000, which covered the $50,000 entry fees for each of the two Finau brothers. The Finaus also competed on the Golf Channel’s “Big Break” in 2009, where Tony Finau finished second.
The suit claims Hola paid for the Finau family’s mortgage payments, medical insurance, a new car as well as golf-related travel expenses for Tony and Gipper, including living expenses for the Finau family to reside in Florida for approximately a year while they received lessons from renowned golf instructor David Leadbetter.
Later, Hola helped form the Finau Corporation to help promote the young golfers and was designated as the corporation’s registered agent.
The expenses, according to the suit, added up to $592,371.37 over several years.
The suit asks for that amount, plus interest and for compensatory damages of “at least $16 million, plus interest,” which the suit claims represents approximately 20% of the two golfers’ career earnings to date. Hola claims he was promised 20% of the Finaus’ future professional earnings.
During his six years on the PGA Tour, Tony Finau has $20,294,565 in official earnings, including $302,236 from the recent U.S. Open, where he finished in a tie for eighth. Gipper Finau never made it to the PGA Tour and has made a relatively small amount as a professional golfer.
Hola is a former University of Utah football player (1983-87) and was a Salt Lake City mayoral candidate in 2003.