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Tony’s Making A Great Run Right Now
By Garrett Johnston for Fairways magazine
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Legendary Utah golfer Johnny Miller walked around famed Augusta National Golf Club Tuesday, and blended in seamlessly with the crowds.
On a rainy-soaked day at the nation’s most prestigious golf club, the 71-year-old walked unnoticed through dozens of patrons (fans) near the practice putting green wearing a simple black baseball cap and dark rain jacket.
When we got a hold of him, he had plenty of positives to say about fellow Utahn Tony Finau’s game.
“He’s had a good start to his Masters career and seemed to like this golf course last year,” Miller said.
Finau tied for tenth last year after that jarring ankle dislocation celebrating his ace on 7 in his first ever Par 3 Contest.
Finau’s caddie Greg Bodine said Tony was asked about 20 times per hole about his ankle injury during his practice round Tuesday.
Miller, the longtime NBC Sports/Golf Channel Lead Golf Analyst who just retired in February, loves the swing he sees from Finau, both past and present versions of it.
“Finau used to have, not a really loose swing but a Vijay Singh kind of swing,” Miller said.
High praise comparing him to a player with a long, languid swing who won the Masters in 2000 and two PGA Championships thus far in his impressive career.
“Tony had beautiful tempo and hit it nine miles straight up in the air,” Milled said.
“Boyd Summerhays got him to really shorten his backswing and sort of make it a 1-2 swing.
“I played with Tony and his brother Gipper when they were younger and Gipper was a one-two swinger and Tony was a nice, big, long swinger and he would it the ball so far and also so high.
“Boyd made a big change to Tony’s swing and I wasn’t sure if that was going to work.
“But it has worked and Tony’s making a great run right now.”
Twelve top 11s in 2017-18 including a tie for fifth while playing in the last group at the U.S. Open, and making his first Ryder Cup-which Miller called on NBC/Golf Channel-certainly fits the mold of a “great run”.
“He’s also become a really good putter,”Miller said. “He used to be a little weak on the putting, but he’s got a chance if he can improve just a little more to be one of the top 5 players on the Tour.
“He has a really good chance of becoming a Dustin Johnson type of player maybe.
“There’s a ‘maybe’ in there,” Miller smiled.
But for this week, Bodine says Finau’s high ball flight helps him to be a factor at Augusta because he can get close to pins on Augusta National’s severely sloped greens.
We’ll find out Thursday at 9:58 AM Eastern time when he tees it up with 2017 champ Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.
Garrett Johnston has covered golf for 10 years and reported from 25 majors. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnstonGarrett
Photo credit: Fairways Media/Jesse Dodson