Also named in the lawsuit are Tony Finau’s brother, Gipper, his father, Gary, his agent Christopher Armstrong and the Wasserman Media Group. According to a Deseret News report, the suit was filed by 55-year-old Molonai Hola, who owns Icon Sports.
Hola got to know the Finau family in the early 90s when Finau, now 31, was still in grade school. Hola is a former University of Utah football player (1983-87) and was a Salt Lake City mayoral candidate in 2003. The Finau brothers had begun playing golf as youngsters and quickly became phenoms in junior golf.
Tony Finau won his age division at the Junior World Tournament in San Diego when he was 12 and won the Utah State Amateur at age 16 in 2006. Also in 2006, Gipper Finau played in a Nationwide Tour event in Utah and became the second-youngest golfer to ever make a cut at a PGA Tour event.
Hola wants payback plus 20%
Hola reportedly "began financing expenses" for both Tony, from Utah, and his younger brother, Gipper, which included mortgage payments, medical insurance, a new car and living expenses "for approximately a year" while the family moved to Florida to allow the brothers to take lessons from David Leadbetter.
This arrangement is not uncommon among young professional golfers who are in need of individual or corporate “sponsorships” to cover the cost of traveling and entering events on lower tours. The majority of these arrangements involve the sponsors to be reimbursed, often with interest, for sponsoring a young player early in his career.
According to the lawsuit, filed in district court, those expenses totalled more than $592,000 over several years. The suit claims there was a agreement of payback, but Hola was never compensated. Additionally, Hola claims he has been promised 20 percent of future professional earnings for both Tony and Gipper, leading to the suit's claim of "at least $16 million" to recoup the money Hola paid, plus interest and compensatory damages.
"We are aware of the matter and have the utmost faith in the legal process," Finau's agent, Chris Armstrong, reportedly said in a statement. "We will not be making further comment at this time." During his career Finau has made more than $20.2 million across the Korn Ferry and PGA Tour.
While he turned pro in 2007 at age 17, the vast majority of those earnings have come since he reached the PGA Tour in 2015. Finau's lone Tour win came in 2016 and he has made at least $2.9 million in on-course earnings for each of the last four seasons.
Ranked No. 14 in the world, Finau finished T-8 at last week's U.S. Open.