Tony Finau has enjoyed a successful and lucrative career to his point in his life. At 31 years old, Finau has won on the PGA Tour and accrued just under $20 million in on-course earnings on the PGA Tour.
However, a Utah businessman and former financial backer of Finau’s is claiming in district court that he is due upwards of $16 million from Finau, his family and his representation for his role in getting Finau to where he is today.
According to a Deseret News report, a lawsuit was filed by 55-year-old Molonai Hola, the owner of Icon Sports. Hola claimed in the suit that he got to know the Finaus while Tony and his younger brother, Gipper, were still in grade school. Hola claimed he paid Finau and his family’s expenses for several years with the agreement of being paid back, but was never compensated.
The suit claims Hola paid for the Finau family’s mortgage payments, medical insurance, a new car and other golf-related travel expenses for Tony and Gipper, including living expenses for the Finau family to reside in Florida while the junior golfers received lessons from David Leadbetter.
According to the Desert News, Tony Finau is being sued by the owner of Icon Sports.https://t.co/PAZUTRCKLJ
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 28, 2020
Those expenses totaled more than $592,000, the suit claims. Additionally, Hola claims he was promised 20% of future professional earnings for both Finaus, which is where the “at least $16 million” total suit comes from.
One of the lesser-known or least-thought-about pieces of professional golf is the amount of capital it takes just to get started, even beyond learning the game.
While there are certainly barriers to entry from a pure participation standpoint, there’s likely more at the elite level where it requires thousands of dollars to simply be able to travel and compete around the world, which is where sponsors and financial backers come into play.
Also named in the lawsuit besides Tony were his brother, Gipper, his father, Gary, his agent Christopher Armstrong and the Wasserman Media Group.
“We are aware of the matter and have the utmost faith in the legal process,” Armstrong said in a statement to the Desert News. “We will not be making further comment at this time.”