Two Hawaiian Teens - Too Totally Different

By Associated PressOctober 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Someone once told Paul Goydos he should go into the record books for his victory at the Sony Open for becoming the first player to win a PGA TOUR event against a field that included a 5-foot boy and a 6-foot girl.
 
One was Tadd Fujikawa. The other was Michelle Wie.
 
Both are teenagers from Oahu who turned pro before they finished 11th grade and before they had a driver's license. Both have been criticized for giving up their youth. Neither of them has made a PGA TOUR cut as a professional.
 
That's where the similarities end.
 
'She's bigger than me -- definitely bigger,' the pint-sized Fujikawa said with a laugh Tuesday morning on the Palm Course at Disney, where he has received a sponsor's exemption at the TOUR's final event of the year. 'Some people compare me and Michelle, but I don't think that's a true comparison. We're totally different.'
 
So totally different in so many ways.
 
Wie's career was orchestrated, if not manipulated. She played 29 times against the pros before she became one herself a week before her 16th birthday. Her market value rose until she cashed in on endorsements with Sony and Nike, eventually Omega, and had a total income of about $20 million after one year.
 
She signed a management contract with the William Morris Agency, known more for its Hollywood stars than golfers. Now in her freshman year at Stanford and rarely breaking par, some wonder whether Wie's best golf is behind her.
 
Fujikawa also took the fast track, but he is starting slowly.
 
The Children's Miracle Network Classic at Disney is his third sponsor's exemption this year. He missed the cut at the Reno-Tahoe Open and the Fry's.com Open in Las Vegas, only breaking par once. He missed the cut in two Nationwide Tour events. His last exemption of the year will be the Casio World Open in Japan next month.
 
Yet, the kid is showing no signs of being discouraged.
 
'Hopefully, within the next five years I can get my card,' he said. 'That's one of my main concerns. As long as I have that goal and stick to the plan, it should be fine. I don't want to rush into anything. It's tough. But I'm learning, and I'm definitely improving.'
 
If there is no rush, why turn pro?
 
Fujikawa felt it was his best route to becoming a better golfer, not an instant millionaire. His mother works at an auto body repair shop. His father works in construction. It was a strain on the family for him to seek better competition, which means leaving the islands.
 
'Financially, we're not that high up on the list,' he said.
 
He and his mother, Lori, spent a month on the mainland last year after the U.S. Open to play junior circuits. She brought a rice cooker from home and purchased a frying pan at a retail store, then found the cheapest hotel with rooms where she could cook.
 
'I left the pan in the last hotel room we were in before going back to Hawaii,' she said.
 
This clearly was not a get-rich-quick scheme. Fujikawa was decked in Callaway garb at the Reno-Tahoe Open and wore Taylor-Made at Disney as he continues to test equipment. More than three months after turning pro, he still doesn't have an endorsement deal. His only earnings since he turned pro has come from pro-ams.
 
'It's not about fast money. If it was, we'd have had that by now,' said Kevin Bell, his agent and an attorney for Patton Boggs specializing in intellectual property and patents. 'This is about wanting to further his golf career.'
 
If Wie's career was carefully planned, Fujikawa's was almost by accident.
 
With most of the attention on Wie trying to become the first woman to qualify for the men's U.S. Open last year at Canoe Brook, Fujikawa became the youngest qualifier at age 15 when he won the sectional in Hawaii against a 10-man field.
 
When they were on the same golf course in January at the Sony Open, Fujikawa stole the show. Four days after he turned 16, he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA TOUR and the buzz didn't die until he finished in a tie for 20th. He followed that by winning the Pearl Open, where about half the field is comprised of Japanese pros.
 
Suddenly, the attention and the temptation became too much to ignore.
 
Friends of the family asked Bell if he could recommend an attorney, and with his workload quiet, Bell flew to Honolulu. When he met with Mrs. Fujikawa, she had an 8-inch stack of business cards from people wanting a piece of the kid.
 
'She said, 'I've never needed an attorney my whole life,'' Bell said.
 
The offers ranged from doing a PSA for a recycling company to making a special appearance an option. The first concern was making sure Fujikawa didn't violate his amateur status, but Bell sensed the boy wasn't long for amateur ranks, and that his parents knew it.
 
'They were afraid to let him go pro,' he said. 'But they were equally scared of holding him back. He's mature about his golf game. He wants to be treated like a pro, and he acts like one.'
 
Fujikawa knows he has a long way to go. He has a history of beating the odds, starting with being born 3 1/2 months early, so small he could fit into his grandfather's palm. He was hospitalized for three months and given a 50-50 chance to survive.
 
That his last PGA TOUR start comes across the street from the Magic Kingdom is but a coincidence. Fujikawa looks like he belongs in line for Space Mountain, not on the tee trying to earn his first paycheck.
 
Most players will take time to hit the theme parks. Fujikawa has math homework to finish.
 
'I love Disney, but I'm not really into the parks,' he said. 'Besides, I'm here to work.'
 
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.