Former Salt Lake City resident Tony Finau has played reasonably well in all four of golf’s major championships, but he generally saves some of his best performances for the place he calls the “holy grail” of professional golf.

That would be Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, site of the Masters.

Finau, the West High graduate and Utah sports icon, will play in his seventh Masters this weekend, beginning Thursday morning when he tees off at 7:36 a.m. MDT with Phil Mickelson and Sepp Straka. Former Masters champion Mike Weir, the BYU product and Sandy resident who donned the green jacket in 2003, tees off at 9:30 a.m. MDT Thursday.

Finau tees off at the first major of the season knowing he has never missed the cut at the Masters in six previous appearances. His best finish was a tie for fifth in 2019. He also tied for 10th in his first Masters in 2018 and in his fourth Masters in 2021.

“Good question, Curtis. I am still trying to do my best to get a green jacket. I have had my chances. I have had two chances to win here. But hopefully I got the goods this year. The game feels good,” Finau told ESPN golf analyst Curtis Strange during the network’s airing of the Par-3 Contest from Augusta on Wednesday, after the two-time U.S. Open champion asked the Utahn what he needs to do to break through and win this weekend.

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Finau said he is “coming off a nice finish in Houston,” an 11-under 269 at the Houston Open that tied him for second with four other golfers, including Masters favorite Scottie Scheffler.

“I don’t know that I can put a finger on (why he’s never won a major),” Finau said. “I am going to keep trying and do my best moving forward and hopefully more than once win a green jacket.”

Surrounded by his wife, Alayna, and five children — all wearing the white Masters caddie outfits — Finau re-lived the moment in 2018 with the television commentators when he sprained his ankle after making a hole-in-one on the seventh hole of the par-3 course.

“I am walking past the scene of the crime right now,” he quipped.

Tony Finau twists his ankle after reacting to his hole-in-one on the seventh hole during the Par-3 Contest at the Masters Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Augusta, Ga.
Tony Finau twists his ankle after reacting to his hole-in-one on the seventh hole during the Par-3 Contest at the Masters Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. The Utah native is back at Augusta this week looking to win his first green jacket. | Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

“It was just the range of emotions. I was ecstatic, it was my first Masters,” he said. “… I turned my ankle. It was embarrassment and sadness. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to compete. All the range of emotions is what I remember the most. … I was quite proud of the way I fought all week during the tournament, and yeah, it is always crazy to come back to this hole.”

Finau opened with a 4-under 68 in 2018, after seriously considering withdrawing the night before as his ankle continued to swell. He has said he did it out of reverence for Augusta and the tournament.

“I love Augusta National,” he told Wesley Ruff of the ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City. “It is a golf course when I first played it and got on the ground, it was just one of those places that give you almost like a holy spiritual experience. … I will never take for granted playing in the Masters.”

Finau’s worst showing at the Masters was in 2020, when the tournament was played in November due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He tied for 38th.

In 2022, he tied for 35th and last year he tied for 26th.

“The one thing that I feel like my career is lacking is winning a major championship, and multiple (majors),” he told Ruff. “I’ve got my eye set to win more than just one, and I still have plenty of time. I feel like I’m still young. For me, the time is now, and it would mean everything to my career to win the Masters.”

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Finau has made the cut in 24 of 30 majors, but one of those misses came at his last major — the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. That ended a string of four straight made cuts in majors.

“I always like the way (Augusta) looks. I’m a very visual player, very visual person when I play the game,” Finau told Ruff. “So a big part of that is just how the golf course sets up to my eye. … You gotta chip and putt well if you want to contend. So a lot of my strengths, I think, just match Augusta National.”

At least one national golf pundit, Mike LaFemina, believes Finau will contend, thanks in part to the shorter rough at Augusta.

“With the rough coming in a rather non-punitive 1.25″ this week, I wanted to take a look at who the best tee-to-green players (are) in the field with short rough,” he wrote on X, listing Finau at No. 1, followed by Scheffler, Adam Svensson, Joel Dahmen and Jason Day.

LaFemina ranked Finau at No. 3 in the field among golfers who play “long, difficult courses the best,” behind only Scheffler and Will Zalatoris.

Noted The Sporting News: “Finau perennially serves as one of the best sleepers in the Masters’ field to win outright. Coming off a T2 finish at the Houston Open, we couldn’t imagine a better value to win outright at Augusta this weekend.

“Finau’s well-rounded game translates perfectly to the Masters. He’s known as one of the longest bombers on tour, but he also has elite tee-to-green, approach and scrambling skills. … Anyone who hits fairways with Finau’s consistency and also demonstrates a strong short game has a chance to capture magic off Magnolia Lane.”


Tony Finau’s six previous Masters appearances

  • 2018 — Tied for 10th
  • 2019 — Tied for 5th
  • 2020 — Tied for 38th (Nov. 12-15)
  • 2021 — Tied for 10th
  • 2022 — Tied for 35th
  • 2023 — Tied for 26th

Tony Finau in last eight majors

  • 2022 Masters - T35
  • 2022 PGA Championship — T30
  • 2022 U.S. Open — Missed Cut
  • 2022 British Open — T28
  • 2023 Masters — T26
  • 2023 PGA Championship — T72
  • 2023 U.S. Open — T32
  • 2023 British Open — Missed Cut
Tony Finau his on the second hole during a practice round in preparation for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Augusta, Ga.
Tony Finau his on the second hole during a practice round in preparation for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. The Utah native is expected to be a contender this week. | Ashley Landis, Associated Press