TONY FINAU last year challenged an old friend to fill in for his regular caddy – billionaire businessman Ryan Smith.
The Hero World Challenge returned to the Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas in fall 2021, with Finau missing regular caddie Mark Urbanek – who was home with his heavily pregnant wife.
Luckily for the World No. 14 of America, 32, he had a reliable pal to fall back on in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah.
But Smith is no ordinary friend. In fact, he’s richer than all the great golf stars, including Tiger Woods.
Smith is worth a graduation £1.13 BILLIONaccording to Forbes.
Still, he was humble enough to help an old friend in need with the Hero World Challenge.
Smith revealed: “He called me and he was like, ‘Bro, I need you to caddy me.’
“I had to go to the bell, right? If Tony calls, you go. He doesn’t ask for much.”
But Smith claimed helping his old pal is anything but a vacation.
The billionaire joked, “I’ve been alongside him as an amateur partner when he competes on the Old Course.
“So I know his game well enough and his temperament… it’s the perfect setup.
“But lugging around a £50 bag… I think everyone thinks I’m on holiday.
“It’s hard work. I’m exhausted.”
Knowing he owes his old friend a huge favor, Finau jokes, “He’s taking an extreme pay cut, I know that.”
We may have seen Smith in action caddying for Finau, but who is the US businessman? We take a look…
THE FIRST, THE FIRST, HOW DOES FINAU KNOW SMITH?
The two have known each other since childhood.
Both grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and once revealed that he knew Smith “since he had zero dollars in his bank account.”
Finau confirmed Smith would be his caddy in the Bahamas.
He tweeted: “Getting my guy @RyanQualtrics to work in the Bahamas this week! Let’s get it!!”
In response, Smith joked, “Caddie rules: show up, keep up, shut up.”
Finau later told Golf Channel: “Ryan was a good friend of mine.
“I messaged him about six weeks ago and asked him if he would mind. He was more than happy to be here.
“He was a great friend and a great mentor.”
HOW DID HE EARN HIS MILLIONS?
Smith is co-founder of Qualtrics, a US-based cloud computing company.
In 2018 he sold his company to German software giant SAP for a staggering £6 billion.
A little over a year ago, Smith, 44, became the majority owner of NBA giants Utah Jazz.
Basketball was a lifelong passion of Smith.
BACK TO GOLF, CAN HE PLAY?
Alongside basketball, Smith cites golf as one of his great passions – for fun, work and relaxation.
In fact, the Salt Lake City businessman became so good at the sport that he once had a handicap of just two.
Smith explained, “I had a stepdad who’s no longer with us, but he kind of got me into golf.
“I worked on a golf course when I was 14, picked balls on the range and then just loved it.
“Sometime in my 20s I was like, ‘OK, you need to sit down and see what your stuff is. And golf is one of my things.”
And it’s played a big part in his life ever since, as Smith adds: “Some of the best business connections and best partners I’ve met on the golf courses.
“Without this game, our paths would never have crossed.
“And it’s the only place I go where the phone stays in my pocket, which is amazing.
“My wife says, ‘You need yoga.’ I tell her my yoga is golf.”
WHAT DID HE DO AS CADDY OF FINAU?
Smith did a pretty good job getting Finau to T7 in the Hero World Challenge.
That ensured Finau walked away with a cool £86,000.
It’s not yet known if the golf star was willing to share his prize pot with his caddy.
After the first day of the vent, Finau tweeted his appreciation: “Rake job today was elite. A fun day with my guy! 3 more to go.”
Closing out the tournament, Finau added: “My guy worked this week! Thanks for looping, bro.”
However, Smith shared a video of himself struggling to rake a bunker thanks to his boss for the week’s massive feet.
He captioned the clip: “Great week on the bag. A little feedback for the @PGATOUR If your guy is rocking a size 14 shoe, you should have more raking time.”
Smith also found time to poke fun at Brooks Koepka after he helped Finau secure the only 18th-hole birdie of the entire tournament.
He joked, “Big putt to the end. Let’s go. @BKoepka I won’t help you with any reads tomorrow.”
But it should come as no surprise that Smith gave an admirable performance.
Smith played with Finau in the Dunhill Links Pro-Am in 2018 and 2019.
The billionaire also shone at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am alongside the likes of Branden Grace and Josh Teater.
He even won the Jack Lemmon Award for Best Amateur Player at that tournament in 2019.