Photo: Charlie Riedel, AP

Latter-day Saint Tony Finau focuses on his golfing goals with the same intensity he summons trying to sink a putt on the 18th green in the final round of a PGA tournament.

“I want to win major championships and become the best player in the world — and those goals seem to be within reach,” he stated recently and matter-of-factly to the Church News.

And if you watched the lifelong member go about his business during the 2018 season, you would know such lofty ambitions are not far-fetched. This past season doubled as a resounding statement to the golf world: Tony Finau is a major talent capable of winning at any time.

For fans and golf writers, he joins the short list of pros known simply by their first name: Tiger. Phil. Rory. Bubba. Jordan. Sergio. And now, Tony.

Finau’s unforgettable year included three top-10 finishes in major championships — the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open. And his success was rewarded with a coveted spot on the United States 2018 Ryder Cup team.

Affability and preternatural golf skills have made Finau a fan favorite. When he injured his ankle in freak fairway accident on the day before the Masters, photos of his badly bruised foot spread across social media. But by his final round that weekend at Augusta, his name was found ascending the leaderboard, earning him new admirers.

Finau’s a young man — still a year shy of his 30th birthday. But his gospel beliefs and devotion to his family instill in him an older man’s maturity and perspective.

“I feel like I do a pretty good job of smelling the roses along the way and just enjoying the moment,” he said.

Despite playing on an injured ankle, he was able to relish his debut at perhaps golf’s most storied tournament.

“I really enjoyed my finish at the Masters — it was arguably the best performance I had all season,” he said. “It was quite the feat accomplishing what I did despite being a little handicapped.

“That was special for me. It was a boost for me and my career — playing that well and knowing that I can compete at a high level.”

Representing his country in the Ryder Cup “was the crown jewel of the year.” The American side returned home from Europe without the Cup, but Tony played well, finishing with a winning record and impressing with his team play.

Rooted in faith

Tony Finau is 14th in the official World Golf Ranking. He expects to one day be the very best.

But golf is what he does, not who he is. His understanding of the gospel offers him eternal perspectives that reach far beyond the sport’s premier events. He is a father, a son and a husband. He and his wife, Alayna, are the parents of four children.