There is a saying known throughout the golfing world; “Beware the wounded golfer!”
Less than 24 hours after dislocating his ankle during the traditional Par-3 Contest, American Tony Finau signed for a four under 68 to be just two shots behind leader Jordan Spieth in the 82nd Masters.
How the 28-year-old made it to the 1st tee is amazing in itself. To then spend more than four hours walking the hilly Augusta National course, and swinging a club at more than 120mph into his aching left ankle, makes his story even more incredible.
Finau’s injury came after making a hole-in-one during the Par-3. He then went into a celebration with the crowd, which came to an abrupt and painful halt when he turned badly on his ankle, dislocating the joint. He popped it back in straight away and later went to hospital for scans. The Masters Committee was half expecting a withdrawal call from Finau before the start of the opening round.
HOW FINAU DISLOCATED HIS ANKLE
But Finau had an early morning MRI to determine whether he could make his Masters debut and doctors gave him the all clear to play.
With his ankle tightly strapped and no painkillers in his system, he headed to the practice range.
"I was just extremely happy that nothing was seriously wrong with my foot," Finau said.
"Quite honestly, it was a pretty cool moment (the hole-in-one) followed by probably one of my most embarrassing moments and a scary moment at the same time.
"It was quite crazy, all the emotions that I dealt with overnight, but I was more than ecstatic to just be walking to that 1st tee and be playing in my first Masters.
“To be in this position I'm at now; when I woke up this morning, nothing short of a miracle if you ask me. I could barely put any pressure on it. I could barely walk.
“But obviously, after the MRI we had, you know, there was no real damage. So at that point, I knew I was going to play.”
He confessed after his round that his swollen ankle didn't feel quite right and he was compensating on some shots.
“I had to compensate a little bit because hitting some shots, I knew I couldn't put the full weight I wanted to on the foot,” one of the longest hitters on Tour said.
“I hit enough range balls for my coach and I, just to come up with a plan just to say, hey, the one thing we can't do is hurt it more. So the No.1 thing for me was my health, and trying to take care of the next few days and not just worry about the now. So it definitely hurt at different points of the round.”
But he said he was not surprised how well he played.
“Honestly, I'm not really surprised,” he said. “I like the golf course, and my foot started to feel better the more I played. And, you know, 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.
“I look at myself as a pretty mentally tough person, and I think I showed that today in my round.”