Fujikawas father speaks openly on his own drug use

By Associated PressJanuary 14, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' A year ago, as 17-year-old Tadd Fujikawa was making his hometown debut as a pro and trying to repeat his previous Sony Open magic, his father was nowhere to be found.
 
Derrick Fujikawa was cheering on his son on TV, thousands of miles away in a rehab clinic in Newport Beach, Calif., trying to kick a drug habit hes had for years. Today, Derrick Fujikawa says hes been clean for more than a year, turned his life around and vows to never leave his sons side again.
 
In his first interview since he was indicted on drug trafficking charges in July 2008, Fujikawa told The Associated Press about his addiction that nearly destroyed his life and brought unwanted attention on his sons fledgling career.
 
I almost lost everything, Derrick Fujikawa said Wednesday, a day before the opening round of the Sony Open where his son is playing for the third straight year.
 
He still has a lot to lose. And could end up leaving his son again.
 
Fujikawa remains free on $50,000 bail and faces decades in prison if convicted on charges of distributing methamphetamine on two occasions in an undercover police sting.
 
News of the charges made front-page news in Honolulu where Tadd is a fan favorite for his humble, squeeky-clean, gee-whiz personality and compact stature. The 5-foot-1 spark plug weighs about 110 pounds.
 
Derrick Fujikawa said he felt ashamed and remorseful, but above all, he was worried about how it may cast a shadow on his son.
 
I cried, Derrick Fujikawa said. It was a sad time for the whole family, not just Tadd.
 
Fujikawa wouldnt comment on his pending criminal case, other than to say how upsetting it was to hear accusations that he sold drugs to fund Tadds golf career. Fujikawa said his son and golf had nothing to do with it.
 
Defense attorney Victor Bakke said he was confident that the matter would be resolved. Fujikawas next court appearance is set for Feb. 3.
 
The 45-year-old Fujikawa had a long battle with crystal methamphetamine, or ice, which his wife, son and entire family endured.
 
Im in the process of changing my life. Ive cleaned up my act, he said.
 
He, like his family, is trying to heal.
 
Derrick Fujikawa said he never used ice in front of his son and hid his habit from other family members. The use got really bad and grew to a $200-a-day habit before he voluntarily checked into a Narconon clinic where he spent six months away from his family, and learned how to rethink life, about honesty and how much he has to lose.
 
Fujikawa said he hopes the mistakes he has made in life will help his son, who turned 18 on Jan. 8, make the right choices.
 
I talk about it all the time to Tadd to remind him to stay the straight line and on the right side of the fence, Derrick Fujikawa said.
 
His biggest fear was how everything would affect his only child. Someone he remembers watching swing the golf club at age 5 in the backyard.
 
I just want to focus on my game, Tadd Fujikawa said. It does have an impact on me because its my family. Its tough. Everyone has ups and downs, and you just have to take it as it comes. Every day is different. There are good days and bad days. It just makes me want to work harder.
 
Fujikawa, one of the crowd favorites at Sony for the past two years, didnt earn an invite this year and had to earn a spot through a Monday qualifier at Turtle Bay.
 
He is making eighth PGA Tour start as a pro and is still seeking his first tour paycheck. He first grabbed the attention of the golf world in 2006 as a 15-year-old player when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, becoming the youngest to participate in an Open.
 
As a 16-year-old high school sophomore, he tied for 20th at the Sony Open ' a shot better than John Daly, two better than Vijay Singh ' and became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour.
 
A month after the Sony, Fujikawa became the youngest winner of the Hawaii Pearl Open, beating a field packed with pros from Japan. He turned pro that summer and has struggled ever since all over the globe.
 
Its been a little tough, he said. I think Ive had my ups and downs and downs and downs, but thats life and thats golf.
 
Tadd Fujikawa said hes worked harder than ever before and hopes it will pay off in a couple years with a PGA Tour trophy.
 
Although, I do want to win now, I think its not going to be as important as it is two or three years from now, he said. Im almost there.
 
For Derrick Fujikawa, hes working hard to be a good father and husband. Hes confident his son will succeed because of drive, focus and spirit.
 
Tadd Fujikawa has come back from personal challenges before. He was born 3 1/2 months early, so small that he weighed only 1 pound, 15 ounces. He made it through a series of operations the first year when doctors gave him a 50-50 chance to live.
 
Im feeling good about my game, he said. I think I have the game to do it. I just need to go out there and do the best I can and have fun and be myself.
 

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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.