'Nothing short of a miracle' that Tony Finau is T-2 at Masters

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'Nothing short of a miracle' that Tony Finau is T-2 at Masters

PGA Tour

'Nothing short of a miracle' that Tony Finau is T-2 at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. – In the span of 24 hours, Tony Finau has gone from extreme high to heartbreaking low, and now back again after an opening 4-under 68 in his Masters debut.

The 28-year-old Masters rookie nearly ruined months of anticipation for his first major at Augusta National by dislocating his left ankle celebrating a hole-in-one on the seventh hole of the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday. Finau took off running following the 12th ace of his career, then switched into a backpedal with his hands raised in the air, his family watching from the tee box.

Then suddenly Finau rolled over his ankle and fell to the ground. When he looked down at the ankle, Finau knew the injury was bad.

“I saw where it was and I knew where it needed to be,” said Finau, who had never dislocated an ankle before but instinctively popped it back in socket. “… If it didn’t work, then I would have laid there and been even more embarrassed being pulled out on a stretcher celebrating a hole-in-one.”

Instead, Finau limped through the next two holes. That night he underwent X-rays, which came back negative, and scheduled an MRI for 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Until then though, all Finau could think about was elevation, ice and the possibility of having to withdraw from the Masters.

“I looked forward to this week for a really long time, and to see the possibility of that slipping away; you know, I had the confidence that I would come back, but I wanted to play now and I want to play this week,” Finau said. “Waiting for another opportunity to play my first Masters, or whenever that was, whether it was next year or another time, was going to be hard for me to swallow.”

Tony Finau falls after rolling his ankle while celebrating his hole-in-one on the seventh hole during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

When Finau woke up Thursday, he could barely put any weight on the ankle. But the MRI results showed no real damage, so by 8 a.m., after some tissue work by his doctor, he knew he was going to play. With his ankle heavily taped, Finau headed to the range early to test it out. He still couldn’t put his full weight on the ankle, and he bogeyed his first hole of the day, but as his round progressed the pain lessened.

Finau, whose length and ballstriking ability set up well for Augusta National, missed just three fairways on Thursday. He hit just nine greens – unusual for Finau – but he also led the field in strokes gained: putting (5.199) – also rare as he ranks 133rd on Tour in that category.

Not surprising: Finau birdied all four par-5s. And for Finau, the fact that he is just two shots back of leader Jordan Spieth, sore ankle and all.

“My story’s quite crazy,” said Finau, who has watched the video of his freak injury, and even was able to crack a laugh. “But I feel like my back’s been up against the wall my whole life, so something like this is just another part of the story, I guess.

“… My foot was out of place 24 hours ago, and I sit here in second place at the Masters after Round 1. It’s nothing short of a miracle for me.”

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