Skip to main content

Classic photo of young McIlroy, young Finau together

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy and Tony Finau faced off in Saturday’s fourball session at the Ryder Cup.

And, as McIlroy posted to his Instagram account, it’s not the first time they dueled on the course.

McIlroy showcased this classic photo of the two of them as kids.


View this post on Instagram

The last time I played @tonyfinaugolf head to head...

A post shared by RORY (@rorymcilroy) on


Finau has certainly leaned out and McIlroy has bulked up, since their youth. But Finau, now 6’ 4”, still towers over McIlroy, 5’ 9” (?).

According to this article from the Desert News, McIlroy and Finau met when the Northern Irishman traveled to Utah 18 years ago to gain some U.S. golf experience: 

McIlroy and Finau were summer golf pals in their pre-teen days during the summer of 2000 when McIlroy left his home in Northern Ireland to stay with the Doug Pinckney family in Orem. He also stayed in the home of Gary and the late Vena Finau in Salt Lake City that summer.

Small world.

According to a report that Deseret News golf writer Mike Sorensen wrote after McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, McIlroy played in 10 junior tournaments of the Utah Junior Golf Association back in 2000. He didn’t win an event that summer, but he made friends with Tony and his younger brother Gipper.

Apparently McIlroy’s parents, Rosie and Gerry, sent their son to the U.S. after he met Pinckney at a junior tournament in Florida and the two families arranged for a summer playing vacation for Rory in Utah.