Phenom Finau keeps his irons in the fire at The Barclays

Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:25pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

EDISON, New Jersey (Reuters) - Tony Finau is the first player of Tongan and American Samoan descent to compete on the PGA Tour and the former fire knife dancer has been able to transfer his skills to a different kind of blade to compete at the highest level.

Finau's rise from Salt Lake City poverty to golf's premier tour is the stuff of Disney movie scripts but the strapping rookie is proving more fact than fiction as he stands one shot off the lead halfway through The Barclays.

The 25-year-old followed his opening five-under 65 with a 69 on Friday to sit just behind two-times Masters winner Bubba Watson at Plainfield Country Club.

The 6ft-4in Finau went from luau fundraisers his parents threw, where he performed with the fire knife and his sister danced the hula so he could compete in junior golf events, to battling for the $10 million FedExCup jackpot.

"To have a chance to play for $10 million is really unbelievable," said Finau, who turned professional at 17 and graduated from the world of mini-tours to the PGA, where he has already posted five top-10 finishes in his rookie campaign.

"I just focus on what I'm doing here this week and try to attack this golf course on the weekend.

"I feel like I've earned my stripes. I feel like I belong out here and I'm starting to prove that to myself week-in, week-out as I play here and start to get confidence."

Finau grew up in a poor neighborhood and learned golf on a par-three public course.   Continued...

Aug 28, 2015; Edison, NJ, USA; Tony Finau plays his tee shot at the 2nd hole during the second round of The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Porter Binks-USA TODAY Sports