Fujikawa Back for Encore Performance

By Associated PressJanuary 9, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU, Hawaii - One putt gave Tadd Fujikawa celebrity status in Hawaii. One week changed his life. And one year later, the 5-foot junior in high school has one tough act to follow in the Sony Open.
The past came rushing back during the Pro-Junior shootout at Waialae Country Club, and the kid embraced the moment.
Walking up to the 18th green for the final skills challenge, the master of ceremonies pointed to a spot on the green where Fujikawa holed a 15-foot eagle putt to shoot 66 in the second round and become the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA TOUR.
'No, it was here,' Fujikawa said, hamming it up for a grandstand of junior golfers, parents and fans who look upon him with as much adoration as they once held for Michelle Wie.
Then he stood on the spot without a golf ball, putted toward an imaginary hole and delivered his version of instant replay. He dropped the putter and marched off with both hands in the air, then crouched to deliver an uppercut with a smile brighter than an afternoon sun over the shores of Oahu.
When the Pro-Junior Shootout ended Tuesday, sponsors brought a chocolate cake to Fujikawa to celebrate his 17th birthday.
'I feel old,' he said, smiling.
Indeed, time moved at warp speed in 2007.
Fujikawa wound up in a tie for 20th last year. A few months later, he won the Pearl Open against a field that includes several pros from Japan. And by the summer, he decided to turn pro with two years left in high school.
He qualified as an amateur last year. He received a sponsor's exemption as a professional this year, the first full field of the season.
'It would be pretty tough to top last year,' Fujikawa said Wednesday before his pro-am round. 'It was pretty special last year, just because I was kind of new to that thing, and it just kind of call all of a sudden, and I wasn't really ready for it. But it was fun. I think the only way I could top last year would be if I win this year.'
Now that would be a tall order.
The one thing that hasn't changed from a year ago is his career earnings on TOUR, which is still at zero. Fujikawa played three times on the PGA TOUR, twice on the Nationwide Tour, once on the European tour and once in Japan, not making the cut in any of them.
'I'm playing for money now, but I don't really think about it, honestly. Maybe I should be thinking about it,' he said, smiling. 'My mom brought it up to me about three or four months ago. She was like, 'You know, you haven't made any money yet.' I'm playing for money now, so I'd better start doing better! No, I still feel the same way about golf and about the way I play the game.'
The game looks fundamentally sound.
Fred Funk was playing behind Fujikawa on Monday and couldn't believe how far and straight he was hitting it, although everyone looks long off the tee to Funk. Fujikawa can hit driver about 275 yards in the air, a stock distance on TOUR, and few question his desire.
The decision to turn pro remains a topic of discussion.
It was largely financial, but not to reap instant cash. Fujikawa's father is a self-employed contractor, and his mother works part-time in an auto repair store. They figured it was tough to travel as an amateur, so he opted to play for money while finishing his last two years.
Endorsements are coming slowly and differently from others.
Fujikawa has a deal with Aloha Petroleum, and this week added Kraft Foods Hawaii. Both are based more on appearances around Hawaii than having to wear logos on his clothing and bag and making corporate appearances. Terms were not disclosed, although Fujikawa said it should help pay for his travel expenses.
There will be two teenagers at the Sony Open for the second straight year, although Wie is not one of them. She is skipping the PGA TOUR event for the first time since her first exemption in 2004, when she came within one shot of making the cut.
The other teen is 17-year-old Alex Ching, who was Fujikawa's amateur partner in the Pro-Junior shootout. Ching said it was Fujikawa's success that persuaded sponsors to keep the amateur spot given to the best player in the Governor's Cup, an annual competition among teenagers on the islands.
'I've got some nervous jitters,' Ching said. 'I'm just going to try my best.'
That's what Fujikawa said a year ago, and that's how he feels now. And it's a sentiment shared by several other newcomers at Waialae who are about to taste life on the PGA TOUR for the first time.
The first full tournament of the year brings optimism, not to mention introductions. It is not uncommon for players to look first at the name on the bag to figure out who some of these guys are. Twenty-two rookies are at Waialae this week.
The defending champion is Paul Goydos, who won last year for the first time in nearly 11 years.
Goydos believes he's a better player than he was a year ago, and has felt that way since he first joined the PGA TOUR. But he compared that with corporate fiscal performances, and realizes that sometimes getting better isn't good enough.
'Everyone is getting better,' Goydos said. 'If you're 5 percent better, then yes, you are a better player. But against your peers, you're back a little bit. We're getting younger players, better players. If you don't improve by a reasonable amount, you're falling backward.'
Younger is relative these days. Goydos has a daughter older than Fujikawa.
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

    Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

    Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

    It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

    “What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


    The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

    Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

    Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

    But at what cost?

    The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

    The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

    We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

    In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

    We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

    Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

    We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

    “What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

    Amen again.

    We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

    Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

    There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

    This is good governance.

    And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

    This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

    We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

    Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

    Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

    Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”