For Jack Nicklaus, the hole-in-one his grandson hit Wednesday at Augusta National left him with tears of pride. Tony Finau’s hole-in-one may well have left him with a dislocated ankle, causing concerns that he might not be able to compete in the Masters.
Very disparate reactions were on display during the Par-3 Contest that annually precedes the main tournament and which is itself a highly popular event. Finau provided easily the most bizarre moment, when his revelry quickly turned into pain.
After draining his tee shot at the seventh hole, Finau sprinted up the fairway, then turned around and ran backward as he continued to celebrate. However, his inability to see where he was going may have caused Finau to have a misstep, and his left ankle buckled.
The 28-year-old Utah native, ranked 34th in the world, went to one knee, and he appeared to pop his ankle back into place before getting back on his feet and initially walking with a limp. He played the last two holes but withdrew from the event, and his ability to participate in Thursday’s first round could be in jeopardy.
“I’m going to get it checked out,” was all Finau reportedly would say about his ankle as he headed to the clubhouse following the tournament, which was won by Tom Watson. The 68-year-old became the oldest winner of the par-3 event, and as if that was not enough to bring back fond memories for attendees, Watson was joined for his round by two other legends, Nicklaus and Gary Player.
Nicklaus also played well, finishing in a tie for fourth, but it was his caddie — a.k.a. his grandson, Gary “G.T.” Nicklaus — who stole the show. Clad in his white caddie’s jumpsuit, the 15-year-old was given a chance to take a swing at the ninth and final hole, and he made the absolute most of it, spinning the ball back into the cup for his first ace at any course.
Asked where that ranked among his memories at the Masters, which he has won a record six times, an emotional Nicklaus said, “Number one.”
“You know, what I did didn’t make any difference to me … I can’t talk. Watching your grandson do something so special … I’ve got a few tears,” Nicklaus said (via the Golf Channel).
“We talked about three days ago, and I said, ‘G.T., do you want to hit the ball on nine?’ He said, ‘Sure.’ And I said, ‘Well, I think you’re going to make a hole-in-one.’ That’s what I told him three days ago. He said, ‘Okay.’ He’s never made a hole-in-one before. That’s his first hole-in-one. Pretty special, wasn’t it?”
“I was just trying to hit it on the green, just trying to hit a good shot,” G.T. added. “This is probably my favorite week of the year. This is a special tournament. Golf is a sport that I love, and for that to happen is just unbelievable.”
Many could hardly believe what happened after Finau’s hole-in-one, and some were put in mind of his own relative. That would be Jabari Parker, Finau’s second cousin and a Milwaukee Bucks forward whose NBA career has been marked by more than its share of unfortunate injuries.
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