Tony Finau (real name: Milton Pouha Finau; born September 14, 1989) holds an American citizenship status due to his birth in the United States but his ethnicity is not linked to the United States. The 34 year-old professional golf player is Polynesian, an ethnic identity that comes from his Tongan and Samoan ancestral heritage.
Tony Finau went pro at the age of 16 and currently has six professional wins including five PGA Tour wins and one Korn Ferry Tour win. Finau is the first professional golf player of Tongan and Samoan descent to play on the PGA Tour, a milestone that has given cause to explore his national and ethnic background.
Tony Finau Biography Summary
- AGE: 34 Years Old
- BIRTHDAY: September 14, 1989
- BIRTHPLACE: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
- BIRTH SIGN: Virgo
- ETHNICITY: Polynesian
- FATHER: Kelepi Finau
- MOTHER: Ravena Finau
- SIBLINGS: Kelepi Jr. “Gipper” Finau, Kelven Finau, Pianola Finau, Kaylene Finau, Tevita Finau, Heilala Finau
- HEIGHT: 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm)
- WEIGHT: 91 kg (200 lbs)
What Nationality Is Tony Finau?
Tony Finau is an American citizen by birth. The professional golf star was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to his father, Kelepi Finau, and mother, Ravena Finau. His birth sign is Virgo and he has lived most of his life in the United States.
Although he was born in the United States of America, he is of Tongan and Samoan ethnicity – and he is the first golf player to make an appearance on the PGA Tour. We will discuss more of that in the subsequent paragraphs.
Tony Finau’s Ethnicity Explored
Tony Finau’s Tongan and Samoan roots confirm his ethnic identity as Polynesian, an ethnic identity common in the Polynesian islands of the aforementioned Oceania countries.
Where Is Tony Finau From?
Tony Finau is from Utah and received his high school diploma from West High, which incidentally, is the same high school that George Von Elm, who was the 1926 US Amateur Champion and a five-time PGA TOUR winner attended. While in high school, few would have guessed that Tony Finau would end up as a professional golfer.
The reason is that the first ever sport he engaged in was fire-knife dancing, a Samoan ritual. Another overwhelming factor that contributed to the reaction of many to Finau’s unexpected career choice was the fact that traditionally, people from his ancestral homes of Tonga and Samoa generally and traditionally engaged in sporting activities like football and basketball.
For a while too, it seemed that 6 feet 4 inches Tony Finau was well and truly headed in that direction because he was quite exceptional at it. In high school, he played center on the school’s basketball team and his performances contributed immensely to the team’s state championship runs in his junior and senior seasons, averaging 11 rebounds a game as a senior.
To everyone’s surprise, though, the talented Finau chose to have a go at becoming a professional golfer and he made this choice despite the countless basketball scholarship offers that would have surely set him on the path toward becoming a professional basketball player.
To most people’s surprise, however, Tony knuckled down on his golf career and eventually went pro at 17, almost immediately after graduating high school. On countless occasions, Tony Finau has confirmed that he may not have achieved the level of success he has as a golf player without the invaluable support of his parents, Kelepi and Ravena Finau.
Tony Finau’s Parents’ Nationality
Tony Finau’s father, Kelepi Finau is Tongan while his mother, Ravena Finau, is half Tongan, through her mother, and half Samoan, through her father. However, the circumstances surrounding their birth are quite different from each other.
The professional golfer’s father was born in the Oceanian country of Tonga in 1963. He is one of eight children born to Sione Tonga Finau and his as-yet-unidentified wife. Kelepi Finau spent the first 11 years of his life in Tonga before his father decided to move his then family of 10 to the United States in 1974.
Tony’s father was 11 years old at the time and his large family crammed into a small house in Inglewood. On the other hand, Tony’s mother, Ravena Finau, was born in Hawaii. Her parents had met and fallen in love with each other while attending and playing volleyball at BYU-Hawaii.
Tony Finau’s maternal grandparents got married at some point and eventually gave birth to his mother in the United States, essentially confirming her status as an American citizen by birth despite her Tongan and Samoan heritage. Finau’s parents’ marital journey more or less followed the same trajectory as his maternal grandparents did.
His Parents Met As Volleyball Players And Married In 1985
They were both sports-inclined and were teammates on a coed volleyball team during their school days. They spent a lot of time traveling with the team and participating in volleyball tournaments around Southern California. The saying that proximity breeds affection couldn’t have been more accurately manifested as it was in the lives of Tony Finau’s parents.
They tied the knot in the presence of friends and family members in 1985, in Long Beach, Southern California. Despite their background in sports, neither of Finau’s parents actively pursued a sports career. His father became a graveyard shift employee with Delta Airlines while his mother probably settled in as a homemaker.
In early 1989, Tony’s parents had sufficient reason to relocate their then family of four which included the pro golfer’s two older siblings, to Salt Lake City, Utah. That decision was influenced by the merger involving Delta Airlines, Kelepi Finau’s employee, and Western Airlines, an airline based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Having grabbed the opportunity to move to the less warm but economically favorable Utah, Tony’s parents set out to establish the family in the city. Tony and one of his younger siblings were born almost a year after each other between September 1989 and August 1990.
Tony Finau Has Always Had A Good Relationship With His Parents
Tony Finau comes from a large family that included two parents and seven children but given the possibility of a less tight-knit relationship amongst members of a large family, it is quite remarkable that the 34-year-old had a very close relationship with both his parents.
His mother died in a tragic car accident in 2011 when Tony, who was already an established pro golfer, was just 22 years old. While Kelepi Finau has largely been credited with helping his son’s career blossom, the celebrity dad believes his late wife set the pace for everything the world of golf has come to love and celebrate about their son, Tony Finau.
The beginning of Tony Finau’s journey to golf stardom began when his mom was in her labor bed and about to give birth to his younger brother, Gipper, she had called his father to her bedside to inform him that Tony and his then-incoming brother would be more like twins before long and that one would seamlessly follow in the other’s footsteps.
Her instructions to him were simple. He needed to come up with a plan that would keep them out of trouble. She then threatened to shoot him herself if they went astray and gave her problems. Suffice it to say that Kelepi Finau had his work cut out for him and he could think of only one thing to keep his son Tony and his brother out of trouble.
Why Did Tony Finau Decide To Become A Golfer?
Tony Finau’s passion for golfing was ignited by a golf tournament he had watched in the spring of 1997, a few months before his eighth birthday, and after that, he made up his mind that he wanted to be a golf player. Basically, he was just seven years old when he made this life-changing decision.
But it is worthy of note that at the time, that decision didn’t make sense because his people, Tongans, and Samoans alike, are traditionally basketball players or football players and as such, golf was a completely different ball game for them.
According to the five-time PGA TOUR winner, his conviction stemmed from watching a then 21-year-old Tiger Woods dominating the Masters. It must be noted that that tournament was not the first one Tony Finau had watched, but it was the first one that held his attention, primarily because he shared the same skin color as the young man who had the world of professional golf under his dominion.
Reflecting on his feelings while watching the tournament, Finau claimed that seeing Woods do so well in a sport that was largely considered to be a sport for white people had him believing he could do so as well. However, Tony knew he was up against it in so many ways, chief among which was his lack of skill and knowledge about the game.
Tony Finau’s Father Was His First Golf Coach
For Tony Finau, having a passion for golf was the easy part as there were other perceived hindrances. These included the fact that his father’s annual salary of $35,000 as a baggage handler at the airline where he worked could barely take care of the needs of a family of nine, talk more of handling the financial obligations required to be a golf player.
As previously stated though, Tony Finau had bigger fish to fry if he really wanted to be a golf player and he needed a coach asap. Recall that his mother had more or less left his father with the task of making sure that Tony and his brother’s lives had direction and this was the perfect opportunity for him to start making good on those obligations.
Despite his limited knowledge of the game, Kelepi Finau stepped in as his son’s coach and also armed with the knowledge of how expensive getting things up and running could be, he set out to find a way to cut costs and still ensure effectiveness in the boys’ golf lessons.
He started by acquiring 75 cents worth of golf clubs and cutting them down to junior size and also found a free golf course where people could practice for free. His limited knowledge also meant that he had to find ways to impact knowledge of the game on his boys and he found most of the help he needed from a copy of Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus.
Tony Finau grew up in a friendly neighborhood that included a lot of people with Tongan and Samoan backgrounds and these essentially family neighbors pitched in with golf balls when they learned of what his father was planning to do. Tony Finau’s golfing journey more or less started in the family garage where his father set up a mattress on the wall while they hit a golf ball into the wall from the strips of carpet on the floor of the garage.
These days when Tony is describing the impact his father had on him as his first coach, he reveals the fact that he was unaware that his father had no idea what he was doing as a golf coach until he (Tony) was around 16 years old. However, he revealed that Kelepi Finau made up for his lack of basic golfing knowledge with his tenacity and never say die attitude, an attitude he aptly installed in the golf pro and his brother, Gipper.
Tony Finau Is The Third Oldest Of Seven Children
As earlier stated, Tony Finau’s parents were already parents of three children before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, where they then proceeded to have five more children including the 6-time professional golf tour winner and his brother, Gipper.
Tony Finau is the third oldest of his parents’ seven children which include four brothers and two sisters namely Kelepi “Gipper” Finau Jr., Kelven Finau, Pianola Finau, Kaylene Finau, Tevita Finau, and Heiala Finau.
Of his six siblings, the only other Finau as popular as Tony is his aforementioned brother Gipper who is also a professional golf player who made his debut aged 16. When they started their careers, Gipper Finau had more skill than his brother but Tony has caught up and even surpassed his brother in both skillset and title wins.
He Has Famous Cousins Who Are In Other Sports
Tony Finau has famous relatives outside golf as several sources have revealed that he is the cousin of NBA star, Jabari Parker. Born Jabari Ali Parker on March 15, 1995, Tony Finau’s cousin is a power forward who is currently a free agent having played for NBA teams such as the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Chicago Bulls, among others between 2014 and 2022.
To further showcase the differences in the choice of career between the Finau’s and the rest of their extended family members, Tony Finau’s cousins Haloti Ngata and Sione Pouha are both NFL stars.