'Full Swing' recaps: Episode 6 Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better
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Written by Jeff Eisenband @JeffEisenband
It’s finally here. “Full Swing,” the highly-anticipated Netflix docuseries that gives viewers unprecedented access to the PGA TOUR and its players, went live Feb. 15. All eight episodes were released simultaneously, allowing viewers a variety of options about how to consume this groundbreaking series. For some, a slow drip may be the preferred method, allowing them to fully soak in the behind-the-scenes look at their favorite players. Others may call in sick and binge all eight of the approximately 45-minute episodes.
Whatever your preference, we’re here to help. First, a quick warning. These episode recaps are chock-full of spoilers. Proceed with caution. But each of these articles is intended to aid your viewing experience, either adding context to the most memorable scenes or helping you recall your favorite moments from episodes you’ve already binged. Enjoy this closer look at Episode 6 of “Full Swing.”
Episode 6: Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better
Main characters: Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa
Supporting cast: Alayna Finau, Kelepi Finau, Sean Foley
“Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better” digs into Tony Finau’s extraordinary journey, taking viewers to the garage door in Salt Lake City that is still pock-marked with golf-ball-sized indentations from his childhood practice sessions. Tony and his brother, Gipper, grew up banging balls in the garage because their family was too poor to afford range balls. Now he is a five-time TOUR winner, and the Netflix cameras were there when he won back-to-back starts last summer. This episode also dives into Collin Morikawa’s early success, the burden of expectations and his exacting standards for himself.
THE MATTRESS IN THE GARAGE
Finau and his dad Kelepi visit Rose Park, the Salt Lake City neighborhood where Finau grew up with his seven siblings. According to Finau’s wife Alayna, Rose Park had “a lot of gangs and violence” during Finau’s youth. Tony and Kelepi examine that old garage door, which still has a barrage of dents visible on the outside. They laugh about the garage never being opened because a net was attached to the ceiling, paired with a mattress to absorb shots.
“It was normal to hear like a shotgun because the neighborhood was shooting too,” Kelepi says. “We would always talk about ways to keep them out of trouble.”
As Tony remembers it, his brother Gipper was the first to show an interest in the sport. Kelepi was unable to pay for his kids to get regular reps at a course, though.
“He knew he had to figure out a way for us to play at home,” Tony says. They would go to the range once a week to see how their shots were moving through the air.
Tony mentions being in awe of Tiger Woods – and inspired by him. “Then I also recognized this guy’s the same skin color as I am.” says Finau, who is of Samoan and Tongan descent.
MORIKAWA’S FAST START
“Full Swing” picks up Collin Morikawa as he endures comparisons to Tiger Woods. Morikawa won on the PGA TOUR for the first time two months after graduating college in 2019. He later won four more times, including two major championships, in his first two full PGA TOUR seasons.
“Collin Morikawa is the extension of the success of Tiger Woods,” Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee says, and sure enough, like Finau, Morikawa says he was inspired by Woods.
“The reason why I play golf is because of Tiger,” says Morikawa, who is of Chinese-Japanese descent. Adds instructor Foley: “Tony and Collin, they’re what the future of golf looks like.”
Alas, after his rocket-like rise, Morikawa has to endure the first winless campaign of his career. On his way to The Masters, he reflects on what feels like a long time since his last win, at The Open Championship in July 2021.
“At the end of the day, you still want to win everything,” he says. “… Can I say this? I want this more than the others? I want ’em all.”
Later, Morikawa is shown at an Adidas apparel design meeting where his future outfits are laid out. He is shown an abstract orange shirt the group is considering pairing with olive green pants.
Morikawa politely questions the design, contending it is not his style.
FAMILY: BURDEN OR BLESSING
With wife Alayna having recently lost her father, Tony commits to his family traveling with him throughout the 2022 season. His early results suffer. As various voices either hint at or overtly question whether he’s too nice, he asks why he can’t have both career and family. By the time the summer rolls around, he still has just two PGA TOUR wins.
“When people talk about my family might be a distraction, you don’t really know someone unless you’ve walked in their shoes,” Finau says.
Finau mentions that Alayna was with him from the beginning, going back to “living out of a car” when they first got married in his early days as a professional golfer. He says he can especially relate to Alayna’s mourning, as he lost his mother Ravena in November 2011 – one day before the Finaus’ first child, Jraice, was born.
“I knew what my wife was going through,” Finau says. “It was more important for me to be there for her … than really be anywhere else, so could my game have taken a backseat? Maybe. Potentially. But that’s not nearly as important to me as my wife.”
At his foundation event in Salt Lake City, Finau breaks down while talking about his mom and the opportunities she gave him.
Netflix's 'Full Swing': Tony Finau on winning the 3M Open
One of the only events Finau attends without his family is The Open at St Andrews. In the U.S., Jraice competes at the IMG Academy Junior World Championships, but struggles. Finau, sitting with manager Chris Armstrong in Scotland, watches some videos of Jraice sent by Alayna.
“He wants to be like Dad,” Alayna says. “He looks up to Tony. His favorite color’s green just like dad. He loves golf. It’s a huge thing between them.”
The family meets up again for the 3M Open. On Sunday, Finau overtakes a faltering Scott Piercy. For the first time, Finau has won on the PGA TOUR with his family in attendance. Amanda Renner mentions the significance of his green shirt – a nod to his mother – and Finau fights back tears. Then he does cry when talking about Alayna to the production crew.
“My wife, she’s been a rock to me from the beginning of our marriage,” Finau says. “She saw me play when I pretty much was nobody. Getting through those years together was tough.”
He wins the Rocket Mortgage Classic a week later. Alayna is there, but their kids are back home in Salt Lake City. Tony directs this post-win comments toward his kids, especially Jraice. In Salt Lake City, a group of friends and family, including Tony’s kids and 89-year-old grandma, welcome the Finaus at the airport, and Tony dances in a now-viral video.
He will go on to win the Cadence Bank Houston Open in the fall for his fifth PGA TOUR win.
- Finau tells a great story about driving up Magnolia Lane: “The first year I came here … I parked over there and one of the guys in the green jackets comes over and he’s like, ‘Sir, this is the past champions’ parking lot,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I’ll be back next year.’”
- Finau played with a focused Woods in the final round of the 2019 Masters. “I remember getting off the 7th tee, which was the first opportunity I had to talk to Tiger,” Finau says. “There was a little bit of an awkward silence. I asked him how the kids were doing, and he looked over at me and was like they’re fine and he just started to walk a little faster, so I got the message he didn’t want to talk.”