- Tony Finau is only one stroke behind the lead in the Hero World Challenge with 36 holes
- Finau has no regular caddy Mark Urbanek, whose wife is expecting a baby
- Replacement caddy Ryan Smith is a $ 1.5 billion Utah businessman
Tony Finau has not got off to a great start in the early stages of the new PGA Tour season, but the 32-year-old Utah native is in great shape in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, one stroke behind Bryson DeChambeau and tied with Brooks Koepka and Colin Morikawa on the weekend.
At $ 3.5 million, the tournament money is modest by current standards for top pro golfers, and the winner’s share is $ 1 million. Even if he triumphs, Finau may have to pass the whole check on to his caddy just to make sense.
PGA Tour veteran Tony Finau did no better than a tie for 45th place at the start of the new PGA Tour season, but he’s in the running at an exclusive event in the Bahamas. | Carmen Mandato / Getty Images
Many of the top performers on the PGA Tour don’t spend much time competing from mid-December through the end of the year, even though this marks the start of a new season. Most wallets range from $ 7 million to $ 8 million, which is fine, but the big money events start with the $ 12 million Genesis Invitational in mid-February, and then the stars start popping up more frequently.
The guys who can afford it take most of the year, especially when they’ve played a full season and crowned it with the Ryder Cup in September. Tony Finau fits that description. The Utah tour veteran took his # 2 career win with the Northern Trust in late August, followed by top 15 appearances at the BWM Championship and the Tour Championship, and then helped the United States hit Europe in the Ryder Cup.
After the end of the season in 10th place in the official golf world rankings, Finau was entitled to a break and some rust has shown itself. In his first three starts of the new season Finau shared 45th place twice and missed a cut.
He chose the exclusive event in the Bahamas this week but arrived without his regular caddy. Mark Urbanek sits out the week to stay at home with his wife, who is expecting a child.
Tony Finau’s replacement caddy in the Bahamas is worth $ 1.5 billion
Tony Finau knew even before Halloween that caddy Mark Urbanek was unlikely to be available for the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas this week, so he made an impressive, if inexperienced, replacement.
The bang is none other than Ryan Smith, 43, who led a group that bought a controlling stake in the NBA’s Utah Jazz for $ 1.66 billion a year ago. Smith founded Qualtrics, a cloud computing innovator that industry giant SAP devoured in January 2019 just days before the promising company’s planned IPO for $ 8 billion.
Forbes estimates Smith’s net worth at $ 1.5 billion, which gives him time to hang out on golf courses. In fact, he worked on a local course as a teenager, and Smith and his wife own a house on the 18th hole in Pebble Beach.
“Pebble Beach is like our home away from home and it’s been a huge, crazy part of our lives,” he told Deseret News.
Finau is close to a scratch golfer, Finau told Golfweek.
Tony Finau and Ryan Smith are long-time friends
Utah celebrities, Tony Finau and Ryan Smith have spent some of their time together, including on the golf course at the AT&T Pro-Am in Pebble Beach and the Dunhill Pro-Am in Scotland. Finau didn’t have to think twice about filling in Smith as his caddy this week.
The standard cut for caddies in PGA tournaments is 10% of the prize money. That would fetch $ 100,000 if Finau scores his third career win.
Paying that much to a $ 1.5 billion man is literally like handing a $ 10 bill to a man walking around with $ 15,000 in his wallet.
Regardless, the golfer plans to pay Smith.
“There’s no reason for me not to give him his post for the week,” said Finau.
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