Tony Finau is among the elite field of 20 golfers competing in the Hero World Challenge this week.
His caddie in the Bahamas is a member of a different elite field: the Forbes list of richest Americans.
Finau’s regular caddie Mark Urbanek reportedly didn’t make the trip so that he could stay home with his expecting wife. In stepped good friend Ryan Smith, whom according to Forbes has a net worth of $1.5 billion.
Smith, 43, founded the cloud computing company Qualtrics, which was several years later acquired by SAP for $8 billion. In October of 2020, Smith led a group that bought a majority stake in the NBA’s Utah Jazz for $1.66 billion.
Smith started playing golf as a kid growing up in Utah and worked at a course when he was 14. He has been friends with Finau for years and the two have paired up in the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach and the Dunhill Pro-Am in Scotland.
Smith owns a house on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links and reportedly finalized the sale of his company to SAP in that house.
“Pebble Beach is like our home away from home and it’s been a huge, crazy part of our lives,” he once told the Deseret News.
This week, he’s helping Finau climb the leaderboard in the Bahamas. Finau opened with a 68. On Friday, he birdied the 18th, the only golfer to do so this week, to cap a 66 and get within a shot of second-round leader Bryson DeChambeau, who leads at 11 under.
After his round, Golf Channel’s Jimmy Roberts asked Finau if he should win, will Smith get the customary 10 percent caddie earnings.
“Oh yea, no question,” Finau said. “He might get more than that. There’s no question about it. There’s no reason not for me to give him his dues for the week.”
Finau went on to say Smith was one of the few guys he was looking as a fill-in caddie.
“He was open and available so I went with him. I’ve played a lot of golf with so that comfort level, just having somebody that knows my game, that I can talk stories with and relate with is great.”
Finau said Smith is close to a scratch player.
“I know in these pressure situations he’s a great guy to have around.”Internet Explorer Channel Network