Tony Finau says it will be a “dream come true” to play alongside Tiger Woods in the final round of the Masters.
Finau and 14-time major champion Woods both climbed to 11 under at Augusta on Saturday, leaving them two adrift of leader Francesco Molinari with 18 holes to play.
That trio will all play together in a final round set to begin much earlier than usual on Sunday due to the anticipated arrival of thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Speaking before the grouping was confirmed, Finau, who shot a sparkling 64 to surge into contention, revealed he would be fulfilling a childhood fantasy by playing with Woods.
“[It is] something that I’ve dreamed of for a long time,” said the 29-year-old. “As a kid, I always wanted to compete against him … I’ve dreamed of playing in the final group with him in a major championship.
“It would be a dream come true for me.”
A sensational start lifted Finau into contention on Saturday. He was six under through eight holes and missed a 10-footer on the ninth that would have seen him become the first man to shoot 29 on Augusta’s outward nine.
Two further birdies followed, giving Finau a clubhouse lead that Woods matched, before Molinari overtook both men.
“I was happy to post the number I did, but more than anything, just [to] keep my foot on the gas pedal and not let off,” said Finau.
“I’m well in contention, and I’m happy about that.”
The prospect of beginning round four at 9:20am local time on Sunday could help Finau, after he struggled in waiting to tee off in the final group of last year’s U.S. Open, where he ultimately finished fifth.
The final four groups (displayed in local time)
08:47 Oosthuizen, DJ, Fowler
08:58 Kuchar, Harding, Schauffele
09:09 Koepka, Simpson, Poulter
09:20 Molinari, Finau, Tiger#TheMasters pic.twitter.com/HHjidpAMpQ
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 13, 2019
“I do think that’s nice, not waiting around ’til 3 o’clock to tee off, kind of twiddling your thumbs,” he added.
“I remember when I was in the final group last year at Shinnecock, just how much time, it was like the longest day of my life and I still hadn’t teed off.
“But no matter what, when it’s time to tee it up tomorrow [Sunday], there’s going to be guys on our heels, and I’m going to have to play good golf no matter what time I play.”