Tony Finau: All In at Home and On the Green
Coming from humble beginnings, professional golfer Tony Finau has not forgotten his roots or the true source of the blessings he enjoys. He carries with him the hopes and dreams of the people who made sacrifices to help him arrive where he is at today. Recognizing that on the golf course he is a representative of Jesus Christ and a conduit of His light, Finau also knows that when he goes home at the end of a tournament, he is going home to what is most important. On this week’s episode, we talk about why he is determined to not take anything for granted.
Sometimes that person that He wants me to be isn't the person that I want to be. But as you pray, these things, they can coexist. Your will turns to His and you can start to do some cool things. You start to see your life change in a way that you would never imagine because you have prayed often enough to know that He's got a better plan for you than then you have for yourself.
Articles about Tony:
LDS Living article by Morgan: "Pro Golfer Tony Finau Talks Faith, Family and the Ankle Incident That Almost Kept Him from the 2018 Ryder Cup" September, 2018
Deseret News articles:
- "'His time is the best time': Professional golfer Tony Finau on faith, family and PGA Tour" October, 2017
- "Who is Tony Finau? Here's the story of his unlikely journey to golf's grandest stage" March 2018
ESPN Article: "Why Tony Finau didn't let 1,975 days between PGA Tour wins discourage him" August, 2021
- "The legends (and realities) of Tony Finau, unlikely golf superstar" April, 2020
- "Tony Finau: How I balance being a professional golfer with being a father" June, 2019
One of Tony's favorite talks: "Grateful in Any Circumstances," Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Tony's answer to "What's your purpose":
Love this answer pic.twitter.com/dr8Y0MyZut
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) May 19, 2021
Video about Tony's mom:
On this Mother’s Day, I honor my mom and all the sacrifices she made so that my dreams could come true. I love you and I miss you, Mom. pic.twitter.com/kPX30tBh4I
— Tony Finau Golf (@tonyfinaugolf) May 10, 2020
Quote: "The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home" - David O. McKay
2:14- Three Rules From Dad
6:31- The Source of Hope
8:26- Humble Beginnings
11:17- Representing a People
13:37- Remembering Who We Used To Be
16:29- What Golf Teaches You
19:51- Golfing with Tiger
22:34- A Mother’s Love
25:18- Second Nicest Guy on the PGA Tour
28:07- Family, Faith, and Golf
37:36- Prayers of Gratitude and Radiating Light
41:56- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Morgan Jones 0:00
On Sunday, Tony Finau wrote on Instagram, "Season seven on the PGA Tour is in the books. My best season yet. Notched win number two a couple of weeks ago and made it to the tour championship this year for my fifth year in a row. I'm blessed to be on this journey."
But then Tony added something a bit unusual for a pro golfer. He said, "I'm grateful to the Lord for blessing my path. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and hard work have created miracles in my life," end quote. Today we'll talk with Tony about that faith and the role it has played in his journey to becoming one of the best golfers in the world.
A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Tony Finau became a professional golfer at the age of 17. He finished in second place in 2009 on the Golf Channel reality television show "The Big Break." He earned his PGA Tour card for the 2014-2015 season, and has since notched two PGA Tour wins. His most recent came just last month at the Northern Trust. Tony has also recorded eight 2nd place finishes, three 3rd place finishes, and 47 top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour. He and his wife Alayna are the parents of five children.
This is All In an LDS Living podcast for we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am honored to have Tony Finau with me today. Tony, welcome.
Tony Finau 1:41
Thanks, Morgan. Thanks for having me on. It's been a few years since we've talked and I'm a big, big fan of the podcast. So I appreciate you having me on.
Morgan Jones 1:50
Well, we are big fans of you at LDS Living. I was telling Tony before this ever started that we watched his latest win with great anticipation and excitement over at LDS Living. So we're really excited to have this interview. Tony, let's start with that recent win that you just had. First of all, congratulations. That was amazing. But second–
Tony Finau 2:15
Morgan Jones 2:15
But second, over five years passed between your first PGA Tour win and your second, which is a long time to be waiting for another win. And in the meantime, you finished in the top 10–how many times?
Tony Finau 2:30
Almost 40 times.
Morgan Jones 2:32
Tony Finau 2:34
Morgan Jones 2:35
So what did–what would you say that taught you about patience and perseverance?
Tony Finau 2:42
Yeah, I definitely had to have a lot of both of those virtues, no question. For these five years, you know, since my last one has been a whirlwind of a ride, kind of a roller coaster of emotions. Those are the–you know, there's not only been lows, a lot of highs. Not only in my life, but you know, in my career, you know, I had still–as you mentioned–stacked up a lot of great finishes but wasn't able to cross the finish line.
And you know, I've had some close calls, I've had a few playoff losses that were tough to take. But you know, I think one thing that I've learned kind of through the whole experience and having to take some of these losses really on the chin in front of the world–and that's the thing about my profession is, you know, when I get beat, it happens in front of a lot of people and I kind of have to take it on the chin and move forward.
But as a kid growing up, you know, my dad had three rules for me when I started to play golf. The first one was listen, second one was be serious or be focused. And then the third one was never give up, or don't quit. So those are the three rules that my dad gave me as a kid. And I say the one that I took most seriously is probably just don't quit, never give up.
You know, when I started this golf thing, I would say I was a pretty good golfer, but you know, I wouldn't say I was extremely skilled, just you know, right away. So I worked extremely hard and put a lot of work and effort into trying to be a better golfer. But one thing that I always took seriously was always finishing strong, never giving up. Never quitting.
So I would say perseverance was huge for me just in these five years. And always just having faith that I would win again, you know, even with all the close calls, just believing in myself day in and day out, kind of putting one foot in front of the other and having that faith that I would do it, I would win again and I want to win multiple times again. But you know, it's taught me a lot about who I am, a lot of character in just overcoming this obstacle of–you know, the world that I live in now, you know, with sports and social media, it can be a bit loud. It can be a bit crazy when you have all this pressure to perform and to finish the race and to win, you know, and a lot of these expectations have been put on my shoulders.
And, you know, whether fairly or unfairly, they've been put on me. And those expectations have been building up for these last five years to notch another win. So it's taken really everything I've had to kind of overcome these last five years and to be able to cross that finish line again and then get the win is extremely satisfying on a lot of levels, you know, so much joy and satisfaction from the work that's been put in.
And it's, you know, honestly, Morgan, it's been a blessing in disguise, you know, I think, because I would have never guessed that I would be as polished of a player as I am today, if I didn't go through some of those trials and some of those tough losses. You know, I looked at myself in the mirror on a lot of those, you know, I've had nice sleepless nights over a lot of those losses and those really close calls, especially when you're, you know, so close to the finish line, and you don't get the job done.
You know, sometimes you start to question yourself or look yourself in the mirror, but I look myself in the mirror and I knew that I had more in me to give, and that's–at the end of the day, all you can do. You can give your best, and so I, you know, I continue to try to not only believe but really put the work in to know that I had to get better to win again. And so it's been a blessing in disguise in that way, where I took maybe what people would call a negative and turn it into a positive and really just believed and just put my head down and continue to work and so I knew that the day would come. And finally it came, just a couple weeks ago.
Morgan Jones 6:25
Well, it was amazing when it did finally happen, and definitely worth the wait. But you–what you were just saying about perseverance reminded me of a quote that I read by you on golf.com where you said, "I have a lot of faith. I'm always hopeful. I think that's why I am where I am." And I think that kind of sums up what you were just saying, but do you think that you've always been that way, Tony? And what would you say is the source of that hope?
Tony Finau 6:57
Yeah, you know, I would say a lot of the source of my hope and a lot of the faith that I have I learned from my parents. You know, I had a great example from my parents. They didn't come, you know, we didn't come from much as far as you know, worldly things, and things of that matter, but, you know, I always felt like I always had everything that I needed, you know, as a kid.
And I would have never guessed that we didn't have a lot. And again, talking about, you know, finances and just things of the world.
But, you know, with the gospel of Jesus Christ, my parents felt like we had everything, you know. They had the knowledge of our Savior, they were very faithful people, and I was able to watch that as a kid growing up. So I will say a lot of the source of my faith comes from my parents and the testimony that they had, you know, so strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in our Savior, Jesus Christ. So a big part to them.
And so that's allowed me to have that type of faith throughout my life. So I think a big part of it is to my parents, and, you know, at times . . . I always feel like I've been a person filled with a lot of faith and hope. But at times I've had to draw on experiences from my parents and then think about them and some of the tough times that they went through, and how did they deal with it? They were even more faithful.
They, you know, they were always you know, 100% type of givers, and then always giving service, you know, serving others and so I learned a lot of that from a great example of my parents, and it's taught me a lot in my life and how I should serve others and just be a faithful person.
Morgan Jones 8:27
Tony, I want to talk a little bit about your parents. First of all, I feel like Desert Industries is missing a real marketing opportunity to have you on some kind of commercial because, correct me if I'm wrong, but your dad bought your first set of clubs from the DI.
Tony Finau 8:46
Yeah, you're right. I wish it was a set of clubs, though, it was more like two clubs.
Morgan Jones 8:51
Tony Finau 8:51
It was more like a pitching wedge and a putter.
Morgan Jones 8:55
You gotta start somewhere.
Tony Finau 8:57
That's right. It became a full set maybe about a year into it. But we started out with just a couple. But yeah, that's 100% true. And this speaks to our humble beginnings, you know, that's kind of how it all started.
Morgan Jones 9:08
So then I also–I loved a few years ago, on Mother's Day, you released a video where you showed kind of a story, it was like a cartoon of you and your mom, and you were at a golf tournament, and you were invited to dinner by some other golfers and your mom stayed at the hotel because she knew that there wasn't enough money for both of you to go to dinner. And then you said it wasn't until you got back that you've realized why she hadn't come. When you look back, what do the sacrifices that your parents made for you to get where you are today mean to you?
Tony Finau 9:44
It means everything. And that story always hits home for me because it's such a special moment for me. Especially now that my mom's not here to celebrate in person all these–and to enjoy the fruits of her labor you know, and all the sacrifices that she did give me.
But that one always hits home, you know, when I walked back into that hotel room and, you know, she's counting her, you know, counting her coins, it was a special moment for me because I shared with her that, you know, "Hey mom, I'm not far away from . . . you know, you're not going to be counting those pennies for much longer," and I dedicated myself to make sure that that was going to be the case, and I was going to be able to take care of my parents.
They sacrificed so much, you know, I look back now, as a parent of five myself, and I'm thinking my parents were crazy, you know, like, they're flying me around the world and, but you know, it speaks to the love that parents can have for their children to truly want to succeed. And it starts even . . . you know, my story starts even before my parents and the vision that my grandparents had to come from the islands and come to America, a place that has so much opportunity, where we have freedom of religion, to be able to express, you know, how we feel, and just so many things.
They had this–my grandparents had this vision that, you know, their posterity could someday be somebody and do some great things in the United States of America, so I'm the beneficiary of a lot of sacrifice and a lot of people. And I'm not naive to that fact. And that's what keeps me humble.
Morgan Jones 11:17
Tony, as I was preparing for this interview, I realized–and I never knew this before–that you are the first golfer of Tongan and Samoan descent to play on the PGA Tour. Is that right?
Tony Finau 11:30
Yeah, that's right.
Morgan Jones 11:32
I think that's so cool. And you know, you talked about what–the sacrifices that were made for you to even be here in the first place. But as you have the opportunity to represent all those of Tongan and Samoan descent and to be the one that kind of made it there, what does your heritage mean to you when you're out there playing golf?
Tony Finau 11:57
Yeah, it means a lot. I'm so proud to be from a people that was so rich in culture and tradition. We love to dance and we love to, you know, we love to have a good time and we're very faith filled people, very God fearing people. And I tried to portray that and who I am to the world, because I think we have so much to offer to the world. We're a very small, small village of people.
You know, there's not–if you're from Utah, I think you know a lot of Polynesians. But if you leave Utah, really, you know, there's been so many times in my life where I'm traveling across the country and playing, you know, in Carolina and all these places, and people ask, like, you know, "What is your ethnicity?" and I'll say, "Oh," you know, "I'm Tongan and Samoan," and they kind of, " . . . like in Africa?" I'm like, "No, like Hawaii," you know, I kind of have to say Hawaii.
And then The Rock became big, you know, when The Rock became like a big super mega star, then I can say, "Oh, yeah, you know, like The Rock," right? So that, you know, it's nice to have someone to actually, you know, like . . . it'd be like, "Alright, this guy is exactly what I am. He Samoan, that's what I am," right.
And so it's so cool to be a part of a culture that's so rich in tradition. You know, I grew up dancing, doing luaus, and that's actually a big part of my story as well, is I learned how to dance. But you know, it end up being a great thing because we ended up doing these luaus as fundraisers for our tournaments. Because this is how we raised money, this was our biggest fundraiser, we would have like one a year where we'd raise as much money as we could to provide for you know, traveling affairs and things like that. So but yeah, I'm very proud to be Polynesian and to represent such a great and loving people.
Morgan Jones 13:30
Huge shout out to our boy Dwayne the Rock Johnson. What a guy. Love him. Okay, Tony. So another thing that I wanted to ask you about is one thing that people have noted since the last couple of tournaments that you've played in, is how much you're putting has improved. So I wondered, it seems like putting is such a mental game. How have you worked on that?
Tony Finau 13:58
Yeah, I think there's a few different pieces to this answer you know, but first of all, golf is a very skill-based game. Not a lot of luck involved at the highest level. What I mean by that is just–you have to have the skills you know to–the skill set to win and to be a great player.
And I knew one of the skill sets that I needed to get better at to consistently win and consistently be at the top of my game was I need to be a better putter. So it's the part of my game that I've always strived to work on. And within these last couple years I've seen a lot of great strides.
It was really nice to get the result that I did a couple . . . or at the Northern Trust Open and then win this year, because I had put so much work into it. I changed putters, which is I think a big part and shout out to my sponsor Ping for providing me with a great putter, great equipment. But I you know, I switched to a Ping putter about a month ago and I think it's made a big difference. But I put a lot of work into it.
I actually, you know, speaking of parents, my dad, ever since I got on tour, my dad hasn't really been–he was my first coach and he was pretty much my only coach until now, Boyd Summerhays. But I kind of had him step in, and I asked him a couple questions earlier this summer about my putting and how I used to do it.
And, you know, because putting, as you mentioned, it’s such a mental game. We're the best putters when we're kids, you know. And that's fact because not only we don't know that much, we just think it's really easy. The pole is there and you just hit it in the hole, right? As you grow and as you learn more about the game, it seems like putting gets so complicated. Sometimes you can overcomplicate it, but kind of going back to the basics, I asked my dad about a couple things, he was able to assist me on, well, you used to do this and you were so confident and you know, you would always do this. So just little things like that and really trying to find out my kind of M.O when it comes to putting and how I used to do when I was a kid. And so a lot of those things have kind of balled up to now, I've had some great success with the putter this season, and I think I've definitely found a putter that works best for me.
Morgan Jones 15:59
I love that so much. I think there's probably a deeper life lesson there in that sometimes we need people to remind us of what we used to be, you know, and people that have known us for years and years that can then say, "You used to be like this." And I think there can be valuable insight in that.
Tony Finau 16:20
Yeah, no question. My dad definitely doesn't mind reminding me how I used to putt.
Morgan Jones 16:27
That's amazing. Tony, you said once that you would like to have a Golf Academy someday, and you said you want to teach kids not only about the game of golf, but what the game of golf teaches you. And you specifically said that it had taught you two things, integrity and honesty. You said, "Those are all attributes that you need in your life, not just in golf." How would you say that golf has taught you to develop those two attributes–honesty and integrity?
Tony Finau 16:58
Yeah, well, you know, I've got a great honesty story. You know, in 2014, I was on the cusp of getting my PGA Tour card. I was playing on this tour called the Korn Ferry Tour. And I hadn't quite locked up my card, it was the last term of the year, and I needed to place a certain–again, the top 25–to get my card. We get into the third round, which is on the weekend and to the 14th hole and I give over my shot and my ball–and I slipped my club behind the golf ball, and my ball had just barely moved and I–of course nobody is going to see this except for me, I just slightly place my club behind the ball.
The rules in golf is if you cause your golf ball to move, whether it moves up, down, side to side, whatever. You know, you . . . that's a penalty shot. In that circumstance, that's a hard pill to swallow. I had just went through how many years of mini-tour golf? I'm on the cusp of becoming a PGA Tour player, and now I'm faced with this decision on, are you going to tell the truth, or are you going to let this slip by because you want to accomplish your goals and your dreams? You know, this small little thing, right?
But it's been instilled in me since I was a kid that telling the truth always comes first, being honest always comes first. And so I called that shot on me, I call my competitors over and I say, "Hey, you know this, I caused this golf ball to move, unfortunately, I'm going to have to call a penalty shot on myself," place the ball, you know, I end up finishing that round. I end up having an amazing Sunday and I play and I get my PGA Tour card.
And so that one shot didn't end up costing me anything. But it was–to me it was more that I was able to sleep that night knowing that I just did what was right, you know. And that's, and that's what I think in life, what we need. And golf has taught me so much about that and about who I am.
I'd love–you know, I started my foundation in 2014, The Tony Finau Foundation, we've gotten so much support from Utah, it's been amazing. But, you know, my goal eventually with the foundation is to, you know, have a center where we can teach kids values, not only in golf, but in life, you know, and that's what I was lucky to have. And golf is a great vehicle for that.
I think there's so many great lessons to be learned in golf. Patience and–as we mentioned–perseverance, but honesty and integrity are two things I think that the game teaches you. And something that I would love to just continue to instill in this next generation and things. But telling the truth has got to be the hardest thing to do in life, but when you're faced with those types of decisions, I've learned so much about myself in those situations where, you know, you always got to tell the truth, you always got to be honest. And wherever the chips fall, that's what's supposed to happen because you did, you just did what was right.
Morgan Jones 19:42
Absolutely. And I think, you know, for those that are not as familiar with your career, Tony, I think it's pretty remarkable, I was reading an article that talked about how you saw golf for the first time on TV in 1997, when Tiger Woods was competing in his first Master's, and you said this, "I saw this kid who was the same color as me. I saw him fist pumping, I saw him wearing the green jacket, he made the game look so cool. I looked at it, and I'm like, man, maybe I can do that someday, maybe I can play in the Masters." Tony, you were seven years old at the time. And in 2019–fast forward–you golfed with Tiger Woods in the final round of the Masters and we're the first to congratulate him when he won his unexpected, most recent Masters. Talk to me about what that meant to you.
Tony Finau 20:43
It was an amazing moment. It was a dream that was realized and a dream that became a reality. I had not only–Tiger wasn't only my inspiration as a golfer, but I had . . . you know, I putted it against him as a kid, you know. "This is to beat Tiger in the Masters and the US open." And I did that as a kid on the practice green, you know, countless and countless times.
Now I was faced with the reality in 2019. I'm teamed up with Tiger on a Sunday and having an opportunity to take him down as I did in, you know, in practice as a kid. So it was a special moment in that I was able to play against my golfing idol, Tiger Woods, go head to head with him. I didn't get the green jacket. But to be able to enjoy that moment. As I walked off the AT&T, I knew I wasn't going to win.
And I was generally happy that Tiger was going to do it because it's such a special time in sports, it's such a special time in golf. I think we needed that boost. But nobody moves the needle in the game of golf like Tiger does. To be able to be there and experience that, feel the energy from the people and just know what that was going to mean for the game of golf and just everything that he's been through, you know, Tiger, that's such an amazing story. I don't think you know–you can never overlook how great that comeback really was in 2019 for Tiger to win that tournament.
The competitor and me, of course, you know, wished it would have been me slipping on the green jacket. But it was a special moment to share that with Tiger and to know that I had just made one of my dreams a reality. Not only competing in the Masters, but I legitimately had a chance to win the green jacket, didn't get it done in 2019. But to be there with Tiger to congratulate him and to share that moment with him is going to be something that–for sure–I remember for the rest of my life.
Morgan Jones 22:25
Well, I'm going to go on record and say that I think your time is coming with the green jacket. But Tony–
Tony Finau 22:31
I'm in, I'm in.
Morgan Jones 22:31
Perfect, perfect. You talked earlier about your mom and the sacrifices that she made. You mentioned that she passed away in a car accident in 2011. And, Tony, I know I've told you this but for listeners, my aunt was good friends with Tony's mom. And so for years I just heard how wonderful this woman was. And so I know it not only from Tony, but from my aunt as well.
Tony, when you know that your mom watched all the work that you put in, she watched you when you were just pretending to golf against Tiger Woods, and then now you've actually had that experience, what do you think your mom would think of the career that you've had up to this point?
Tony Finau 23:21
Yeah, she'd be extremely proud. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. You know, I miss my mom dearly. She's been someone that's been there and a support for me since the beginning. Again, as I mentioned earlier, to not be able to hug her in these situations where I know she's extremely proud is something that I long for, but I think she'd be extremely proud of the player that I've become and things I've been able to accomplish. I think more importantly the man that I become because of her.
You know, so much of who I am is an example of who she taught me to be and what I try to do in my life, a person that lived a life of service and has so much love towards others. You know what I think of my mom, she had this huge smile on her face. And I tried to portray that because it's so contagious. You know, being around a person like that is so contagious. She was always smiling, always positive.
And so yeah, I miss her dearly. And I know, I know, she would definitely be proud, but I know she was there with me, you know, and I feel her on the course with me when I play. And it's cool to be able to experience this with my dad and share stories with my dad about my mom. It's quite a special thing and one thing I'm so grateful for the gospel for is you know, to know that families can be together forever and to truly have a testimony of that. Something I was faced with when my mom passed away. Think about it as kids, you know, families can be together forever. That's something that we sing as kids in primary. When my mom passed away, I was really faced with the reality. Is this something that I truly believe? Is this a testimony that I truly have that you know families are eternal? And you know, and I, with the faith that I have, I know that it's true. So it's cool to know that and to know that I'll see her again. And we'll be able to celebrate many trophies on the other side.
Morgan Jones 25:07
Well, I am sure that she just has to be, like you said, so proud of you not just for the golfer that you are, but for the husband and father and–I read something as I was preparing that a few years back, the PGA Tour, they did like a nicest guys on the PGA Tour list. I don't know who did it, golf.com or something, and you were voted the number two nicest guy on the PGA Tour. And there was a story that you've once went to the home of a spectator that your golf ball hit on the course to deliver flowers and chocolates. Is that true?
Tony Finau 25:49
That was true. But I have to go back to I mean, this is–I think this came out in like 2018 when I had like a three year one list drought, and I finished second to Jordan Spieth and so I was still taking L's, like even taking second in that category. I couldn't even win the nicest guy, I think Jordan Spieth won.
Morgan Jones 26:06
Tony Finau 26:07
No, all jokes aside, it was quite an honor. I mean, I think that's a pull from, you know, a lot of the media and just fans and stuff. So it was an honor just to be mentioned as someone that you know, people look up to and things. But yeah, so in 2017 I pulled a tee shot–I was playing in Dallas at the colonial, I pulled a tee shot, I hit this tee shot really, really hard, floor of this bunker into a crowd of people. Of course, I yelled fore, I end up hitting this younger girl close to my age, like right in the head.
When I walked up there, people were just shaking their head and I started to get really nervous. I'm like, I think I may have really hurt someone. So I walk over there. And I was really hoping like, I hope I didn't kill anyone and I walk over there. And you know, she's just kind of holding the side of her head and blood is coming out, just not a cool sight. And again, so this is only on my 11th hole. I literally, I couldn't even think straight for the rest of the round. The round finishes I ask about the girl and they're like, "Yeah, you know, she's, you know, she just left the hospital, she's gonna be okay. She had a mild concussion," all this stuff, "But she's going to be okay."
So I say, is there any chance you can get the address to this young lady and I'd love to just see–because I, to me, it was more like I wanted to make sure this girl was alright, I'm like, I don't want to make sure I didn't handicap someone for like the rest of her life, because I don't want to be scarred for life just for that.
So I did buy her some flowers and then take over some chocolate for her just to cheer her up and make sure that she knew that I was thinking about her and just wanted her to know that I, you know, wanted to check on her and know that she was alright.
Morgan Jones 27:36
I think that's awesome. And such a good example to set of the importance of being kind as well. And I think, Tony, having interacted with you briefly, last time when we worked on a story together for LDS Living, I was so impressed. Everybody that came up and wanted a picture or whatever on the golf course, you were so kind and I think that there's something that makes people want to root for you when you're that kind of person.
Tony, I want to transition a little bit to talking about something your coach, Boyd Summerhays, said that your priorities are family, faith, and golf. And he said that you take what you believe in terms of your priorities very seriously. How would you say that that manifests itself, those priorities being the most important for you, how does that manifest itself in your life to those around you?
Tony Finau 28:38
Yeah, well, family was everything for me growing up, you know, I'm the third of seven children from my parents, and my dad has had a couple kids since, so I'm the third of nine, but family has always been everything for me. And the great thing about family is that's the center of the gospel as well. So I think they coexist, you know, so a family has always been everything for me.
And so, you know, when Alayna and I started a family, we always wanted to make sure our kids knew that they were first in our lives, and my parents made me feel that way. And I want to make them feel that way. And I just, you know, I try to be an example for my kids. It's–being a father has changed my life, it's been the greatest blessing to me, to be able to have these bundles of joy and try to raise them to be these, you know, good humans. And it's been a blessing for me, but man, my life has been blessed. I feel pretty grateful for all things I have in my life. But you know, family being at the very top, my parents, as I mentioned, have given me so much. I try to instill, you know, a lot of those same principles into my children. I feel like it's manifested itself, just in the joy that I try to live with. Because of–and the gratitude I try to live with in my life, no matter the circumstances in my life.
You know, I think one of my favorite talks–all time–is, "Grateful in Any Circumstance," And that was a talk given by Elder Uchtdorf in 2014. I've studied that talk inside out, because I think that's something that is missing so much in our world is just, people that aren't grateful, just in any circumstance, not just grateful for things, but whether things are going good or bad, we've got to be grateful for the circumstances that we're in and try our best to still have faith in those situations.
So, I think it's manifested itself in that, you know, even these five years, as hard as they've been, as grueling as they've been in my profession, I've been grateful for the challenges that they bring in my life. And, and that's a hard thing to do. It's hard to be grateful in times that are–where you think things are unfair, where you're not being treated fairly in life, you know, life beats you up. And in my life, golf has beat me up, you know, life has beat me up. And so many things have beat me up. But I try to choose to be grateful in those circumstances, because sometimes that's all you have, you know, and that I think starts to illuminate into some joy in your life and then you start to find some light, and then, you know, days and days go by, you start to feel that things are going to be okay, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
But I feel like that's probably the best way I can kind of describe how I like my family to come first and my faith, and then the golf kind of falls.
Morgan Jones 31:21
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I want to talk a little bit about your family. So first, I have to tell you that I am a big fan of you and Alayna's dances on Instagram. You've got moves and Alayna's really good.
Tony Finau 31:35
Yeah, we love to dance.
Morgan Jones 31:35
No offense to you, Tony, but Alayna might be better.
Tony Finau 31:39
Yeah, I think she is. She's definitely–well, I don't know. Have you watched our thriller? Have you seen our thriller?
Morgan Jones 31:44
I don't think I've seen the thriller one.
Tony Finau 31:46
Oh, yeah. I'm going to have to send that to you, or you can just go on Twitter and look it up. I think you'll enjoy that. And she actually, she does it way better than me, so.
Morgan Jones 31:55
Okay. Okay. I also heard that she picks out your outfits for the tour.
Tony Finau 32:02
She does. Yeah. So everyone that says, "Hey, man, your outfits fire," and all this stuff. I'm like, man, my wife is doing a great job. She's great. She's a lot better than me at doing that stuff. I'm so blah, I'm like, just give me a black shirt and like, white pants or a white shirt with gray pants and I just–I don't do the colors thing. And she's like, "No, you have to do this and do this." So I'm like, alright. She packs my clothes. And she even labels them. She says, "Alright, you wear this on Thursday, you wear this on Friday, this on Saturday." So if you guys like my outfits, it's all due to my wife.
Morgan Jones 32:35
Well, we do like your outfits. And Alayna, you're killing it. But what would you say makes you and Alayna's marriage work? Because you're gone a lot. So how are you able to make that work?
Tony Finau 32:51
Yeah, it's been, you know, honestly, it's been a lot of trial and error. But, you know, she sacrifices a lot. And I'm very blessed and very lucky to have Alayna in my life and to have met her at the time that I did, it's been a blessing. But I mean, it's been trial and error.
You know, when we first got married, I wasn't on tour. I didn't have a lot, didn't have a lot of money. 18 months later, I was on the Korn Ferry Tour and, you know, started to make a little bit and then I was on the PGA Tour. And so we kind of have evolved together, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. You know, it's been great to know that she's been by my side through thick and thin, it helps our relationship. And she's an amazing supporter.
She's very, very competitive. And so she, she understands sports, she understands family, and what our family is, and that dynamic I think is extremely important. It allows her to have sanity when I'm on the road, knowing that I'm doing what I got to do. And also she's sacrificing for me, for us. And just yeah, and just doing it all for our family. So she's a very selfless person. And I would say she's the one that is sacrificing more than I am as far as the time that she puts into our children.
But she's a great mother, a great wife and . . . it takes a team. It's so hard. It's not all roses and dandelions and you know, balloons and stuff in our relationship and in life. But she's made it a heck of a lot easier on me just supporting me the way she has, and just being the mother that she is to our children. And so it's been trial and error, as I mentioned before, but I say that because through thick and thin, we figure it out. And we just know that, you know, we try to do the best that we can with what we're given.
Morgan Jones 34:42
I was really impressed with an Instagram post that she had where she talked about the Family Proclamation and she was talking about her goal for the year and said, "I want to be the best wife and mother that I can be." And then she talked about the family proclamation and the vision that it had given her for the kind of mother and wife that she wanted to be. And I just thought, that is a very good woman. So, I want to–
Tony Finau 35:10
Morgan Jones 35:10
I want to also talk about you as a father. So you wrote this in an article for golf.com, "It's great to receive accolades on the course. But at the end of the day, if I end up raising four"–which, side note, I didn't even know until I was prepping for this, that you guys had another kid, congratulations!
Tony Finau 35:31
Thank you. Beautiful Sienna-Vee, number five.
Morgan Jones 35:34
Amazing. So you said, "If I end up raising four–now five–pretty cool kids, good people, good human beings, I've done my job. To me, that's the biggest win I can play for.” How has being a father changed you, Tony?
Tony Finau 35:52
It's changed me in all the great–in all the best ways. I've learned how to be more selfless, to, you know, to take on more responsibility. And it's taught me to work hard to provide for them and, you know, preside over my family and protect them.
So many, I think, so many of the great things in my life and the joy that I have are from my children and being their father, but it comes with a lot of responsibility, I think. You know, one of the things that my parents instilled in me that I want to instill into my children is just the confidence that you can become somebody great. And you know, my parents believed that I could be somebody great. They made me feel that way. They made me feel special–not in like a crazy way, but just like, very confident way, you know, like, they made me feel like I could do something with myself, and they had this confidence about them.
So, on being a father, I try to have that same confidence and have that confidence in them. But you know, one of my favorite sayings is, "Nothing makes up for failure in the home." And that's something that I take very seriously and I truly believe that. It's great–it'd be an amazing thing to be an amazing golfer and win many tournaments, major championships, selfishly, that’s the accolades I'm looking for, you know, making the Ryder Cup teams, I mean, these are so many great things.
But you know, nothing makes up for the failure in the home. And if I fail at being the best father that I can be or not raising them the best that I can, then I've truly failed in life. So I try to take that seriously by being there for them, instilling this confidence in them that they can become somebody in the same way that my parents instilled into me.
Morgan Jones 37:32
I admire that so much. Tony, before every round of golf, you say a prayer. How long have you been doing that? And why is it an important ritual for you when golfing?
Tony Finau 37:50
Yeah, well, I mean, I've been doing it since the day, basically, I was born. I mean, I can't remember a time that, you know, my parents seemed like they weren't on our knees praying.
So I've always prayed, you know, I got some, we got almost like, I think too many cool stories about that, you know, like I have my own story about like, praying in the middle of the course, you know, like things as a kid, you know, pretty naive about what's going on around me just praying the wind and stuff like that, you know, pretty funny stuff.
But I've always–I get asked all the time, are you a superstitious person? What is something that you always eat? Do you always wear the same socks? Or–because a lot of guys are that way, you know, they're always like doing all this superstitious stuff. And I just, I'm just like, "I just pray. That's it." The one thing that I always do before I do anything is just like every morning I say my prayer. I mean, it's, I think it's so important to me that I communicate to Heavenly Father that's how grateful I am for the opportunity that I had to play. And that's the best thing for me.
It goes back to that gratitude thing, you know, that I was talking about, just being grateful. I'm grateful to be able to do what I do and do what I love. It's a blessing that I've been given and I try to portray that and privately thank my Heavenly Father for the blessing that I have every single day and try to be that light that He wants me to be and try to be the person that He wants me to be and selfishly, sometimes that person that He wants me to be isn't the person that I want to be.
But as you pray these things, they can coexist. You know, your will turns to His and you can start to do some cool things. You start to see your life change in a way that you would never imagine. Because you have prayed often enough to know that He's got a better plan for you then you have for yourself.
Morgan Jones 39:39
Yeah. Tony, you just mentioned light and wanting to be a light to those around you. I was so impressed, earlier this year you were asked by Marty Smith, and it actually got retweeted by Kirk Herbstreit, which was cool. But Marty asked, "What's your purpose?" And you answered, "It's to be a light in the world. It's to have so much joy emanating from me, coming out of me that everyone in my midst can't help but feel it." How would you say that you invite light into your life?
Tony Finau 40:14
Yeah, the ultimate Light of the world is our Savior. I try to, if you have enough of the Savior inside of you, I think you can share that light. But I think that's such a . . . that's just an easy way for me to go about my business, is to always know that I try to be a light to all and to everyone that I come in contact with. Am I all the time? No. But that is something that I strive to do with everything that I say and the way that I act. And so I have enough light in me through everything that I do, not only in public, but in private, making sure the things that I do, I'm filled with the light of Christ that when I'm out and about people can feel that I've been around people that have this light, you know, and this joy about them that is exactly what I said, it comes out of them. And you can feel it, just by being around them.
I think people, true disciples of our Savior, I feel that when I'm in the midst of people that have that and I want to be that person where you know, people are like, "Yeah, I feel that when I'm around Tony Finau." It's something that I strive to do, just to be a light to all that I come in contact with. It starts from within and having the Savior kind of live within you.
Morgan Jones 41:35
I appreciate that answer. So much. And I do think that you do a great job of that. You do a great job representing not only other members of the Church throughout the world, but also being a disciple of Christ. And so on behalf of all of us, thank you very much for that. My last question for you, Tony, is what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Tony Finau 42:04
Yeah, I love when you ask this on the, to everyone that comes on the podcast because I love listening to the answers. I gain a testimony every time I listen to this answer from everyone. So I hope what I share, my basic message resonates with someone–at least one person out there.
To me being all in the gospel of Jesus Christ is enduring to the end. And what that means to me, there's a saying in Tongan that I'm actually going to phrase and it's the " . . ." What that means is slow but steady. Slow, but confident. Slow, but sure. You know, I think as you go through life, one foot in front of the other, little by little, little becomes a lot. Try to do the right thing a little bit, a little at of time.
We don't need to make these huge strides and change everything that we do. I think it's–faith is built, if faith is a choice, it's built little by little. My testimony has come a little at a time, a little here, a little there. And so I think being all in on the gospel of Jesus Christ is taking it one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, choosing faith every single day, faith in our Savior, faith that things will be better, faith and hope that things will get better. And taking it one step at a time, you know.
The gospel is simple. Our Savior Jesus Christ, commandments are simple. We're the ones that complicate it. Try and keep it as simple as possible and live the commandments one step at a time and hopefully, you get to where you want to get and that's just living a happy and fulfilled life.
Morgan Jones 43:41
So well said. Tony, thank you so much for giving of your time in the middle of the most important part of the golf season. I think that's a great example of just how all in you are.
Tony Finau 43:53
Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it, Morgan. Thanks for all you do.
Morgan Jones 43:58
A huge shout out to Tony Finau for joining us on this week's episode and for being cool enough to do an interview the night before one of the biggest golf tournaments of the year. Thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this episode. And thank you so much, as always, for listening. We'll be with you again next week.