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'Pretty mentally tough' Tony Finau confounded logic to power round Augusta after horrific ankle injury

Wolverine-like recovery powers are the only way of explaining how the 28-year-old shot 68 on his Masters debut a day after dislocating his ankle.

LET’S TAKE A minute (because modern science should dedicate vastly more time than that) to appreciate the healing powers within Tony Finau’s body.

The Masters - Round One Source: Andrew Redington

The American, you’ll remember, suffered a horrific-looking ankle injury in the moments after shooting a hole-in-one during the Wednesday Par Three Contest (don’t watch if you’re squeamish about bones and breaks).

Source: HOOA Golf/YouTube

In contact sports, when we see foot and leg pointed at such contrasting angles, the result is ordinarily the best part of a year on the sidelines. Finau managed to casually pop his ankle back into joint and — a day later! — go out and shoot a -4 round of 68 to lead on day one of his first ever Masters.

Golf isn’t a contact sport, but just getting around the 6.8km course in Augusta seemed an unlikely feat for Finau to consider yesterday morning. And yet, that left ankle and foot securely bore the weight of his swing throughout, the 28-year-old not noticeably rushing to shift back onto his right foot and only rarely showing any sign of an ailment.

While the world gasped as the sight of him casually popping his ankle back into joint on Wednesday, Finau appeared to be the only person who didn’t think he was about to pull out of the Masters injured.

“I looked forward to this week for a really long time, and to see the possibility of that slipping away (was tough),” he told reporters after the day ended with him two shots off leader Justin Spieth.

The Masters - Round One Source: Andrew Redington

“I had the confidence that I would come back, but I wanted to play now and I want to play this week. Waiting for another opportunity to play my first Masters, whether it was next year or another time, was going to be hard for me to swallow.”

So although Finau ‘could barely walk’ on Wednesday, when the MRI scan showed ‘no real damage’ – ESPN have reported it to be a high ankle sprain – he had resolved to tape up his left ankle and power on.

It has been pretty crazy. To be in this position …. nothing short of a miracle if you ask me.”

While everything appeared normal on the surface for Finau, he unquestionably felt the pain of playing with his injured ankle.

“The one thing we can’t do is hurt it more,” Finau said, admitting he wound up over-compensating in some areas because to the problem, “it definitely hurt at different points of the round.”

Source: The Masters/YouTube

Finau gave the credit for his pain threshold to the fire-knife dancing his mother taught him as a child:

“If you catch it on the wrong side of the stick, you burn your hands,” Finau explained to the Augusta media.

“It’s kind of a hook and a knife at the top of it, so you could also cut yourself, and I did a lot of that as a kid.”

The Masters - Round One Source: Andrew Redington

“I feel like my back has been up against the wall my whole life, so something like this is just another part of the story, I guess.

“I look at myself as a pretty mentally tough person, and I think I showed that today in my round, just able to put my head down and just play.”

Spieth’s birdie run sets blistering pace at the Masters

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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