Tony Finau was in a reflective mood as he prepares to make his Ryder Cup debut for the United States this weekend. Finau got his first full set of clubs at age nine, with his father previously having scrapped together small irons and equipment from pawn shops and yard sales.
Fast forward 20 years and Finau is set to play in the Ryder Cup, with his original clubs still in his father's garage. And, the latest feather in Finau's golfing cap is one that fills the 29-year-old with pride.
"I'm extremely proud of where I am. Just having a spot on this team, it's been a dream of mine since I started playing the game at eight years old. I didn't come from a lot, but my parents sacrificed a lot for me to compete, and my goals were their goals," Finau said Thursday, a day ahead of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National.
Finau, who is of Tongan and American Samoan descent, passed over rugby as a child and instead played basketball, volleyball (two sports perfect for 6'4" athletes) and golf. He excelled most at what he routinely called "an extremely expensive sport" for his parents to fund.
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The sport was also expensive for him through six years of Web.com Tour Q-school while living mini-tour life with a wife and child.
For a player who knows just how fortunate he is to be on this stage, Finau is not taking a moment for granted. "That's the advice I've got from some of the older guys, is enjoy it, because it does come to an end," he said.
"This is my first of hopefully a handful, but this experience is pretty cool for me already, and to reflect back on some of the experiences that I've had, this is pretty special for me." But, is it the most special honour in Finau's life? No.
"Well, in my life, marrying my wife, because she's really beautiful. That gave me a lot of confidence personally. I look at her every morning, and I'm like: I'm pretty lucky," he said when asked which of his accomplishments has given him the most confidence.