Fujikawa Still Looking for First Paycheck

By Associated PressJanuary 12, 2008, 5:00 pm
HONOLULU, Hawaii - He thought he had the game and was determined to play golf for a living, so he turned pro before finishing high school and spent two years traveling the world as he tried to make it to the big leagues.
 
Maybe it will pay off at the Sony Open.
 
Kevin Na went into the third round Saturday only two shots out of the lead.
 
The other kid taking a similar route is Tadd Fujikawa, who missed the cut for the ninth straight time since turning pro last summer. Fujikawa made history last year at the Sony Open when he was 16 as the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA TOUR.
 
The encore didn't go according to plan.
 
A year ago, he dropped his putter and raised his arms in triumph after an eagle putt in the second round for a 66. On Friday, he lifted his head to the blue skies over Oahu and closed his eyes as his shots found the rough and his putts caught the lip.
 
He went 74-70 and missed the cut by four shots.
 
Fujikawa has played four times on the PGA TOUR, twice on the Nationwide Tour, and once each in Japan, Europe and on the Canadian Tour. He is still waiting to cash his first paycheck.
 
The pressure likely will build.
 
Questions are sure to follow whether Fujikawa, a 5-foot-1 junior in high school with a big heart and impeccable manners, made the right choice by turning pro so early.
 
'I think it was the right decision,' he said. 'I have no regrets as of right now, and hopefully throughout my golf career.'
 
Where that career takes him over the next few years, starting with 2008, is uncertain.
 
His next stop is the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the second of seven exemptions he is allowed on the PGA TOUR. His agent, Kevin Bell, has letters out to just about every tournament as he tries to build a schedule.
 
Spots on the Nationwide Tour are hard to find, a circuit filled with players grinding to make the PGA TOUR. He received an offer a few weeks ago to play in Abu Dhabi, but had to turn it down because he could not get from Hawaii to the Middle East until the early hours of Wednesday. They are looking at Europe and Japan.
 
The road looks even bumpier because it starts in Honolulu, and that naturally evokes comparisons of another teenager from Hawaii who turned pro as a junior in high school. Michelle Wie is now in a tailspin, brought on by injury and questionable advice.
 
Fujikawa, however, finds inspiration from Na.
 
Born in South Korea, Na moved to southern California when he was 8, picked up the game a few years later and was one of the top juniors when he dropped out of high school and turned pro.
 
He failed at Q-school, then went to the Asian Tour and won the Volvo Masters of Asia, which got him into a World Golf Championship at age 19. He made it through Q-school later that year and has kept his card each year.
 
Na's advice to Fujikawa was to keep playing.
 
'He just needs to play a lot of tournaments, whether that's Nationwide, PGA TOUR, any tournament he can play anywhere,' Na said. 'He's popular, so he can get a lot of sponsor exemptions overseas. I think that's a great place to go, because you get to see the different parts of the world as a young person, and I think that really opens up your mind.'
 
Fujikawa comes from a humble background. His father is a self-employed contractor, his mother works part-time at an auto repair shop. He goes to public school, plays on public courses.
 
One reason for turning pro was financial. Fujikawa found it difficult to pay for travel to amateur tournaments, and a few endorsements help with the travel. He has signed deals with Aloha Petroleum, Kraft Foods Hawaii and Hawaii Medical Assurance Association. Most of the deals are tied to appearances in Hawaii, where he enjoys celebrity status.
 
'His parents only want him to get out and play tournaments,' Bell said. 'They're not looking for $500,000 endorsements. That's not realistic. They want to make sure he likes what he's doing. His goal is to get his tour card when he's 21. If he can do it sooner, even better.'
 
Fujikawa had more than one kindred spirit at Waialae.
 
Sean O'Hair comes from an entirely different background. He was groomed to be a star by his father, who enrolled him in the top golf academies, trained his son like he were in boot camp and looked upon him as a business opportunity. O'Hair's father had him turn pro before his senior year in high school, and they traveled the country trying to Monday qualify on the Nationwide Tour, meeting failure at every turn.
 
Only after he broke away from his father and got married did O'Hair figure out a better plan.
 
He played a mini-tour in New England, then the Gateway Tour in the west, returned to New England and made it through Q-school when he was 22. He was the PGA TOUR rookie of the year, winning the John Deere Classic and finishing 18th on the money list.
 
O'Hair doesn't know Fujikawa well, but he knows what he's going through.
 
'There's nothing wrong with him struggling,' O'Hair said. 'If you don't fail, you'll never learn.'
 
The career choice was made last summer, and there's no turning back. The only thing Fujikawa can do now is keep playing.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.