We May See A Tadd More

By Brian HewittJanuary 14, 2007, 5:00 pm
Pretty good times for Hawaiian golfers.

The states own Dean Wilson wins on the PGA TOUR last year. The states own Kimberly Kim wins the U.S. Womens Amateur last year.

Tadd Fujikawa
Tadd Fujikawa didn't win, but he stole the show Saturday at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The states own Michelle Wie turns up ranked sixth on a published list of the games top 2006 earners'behind, in order, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer, Vijay Singh and Greg Norman. And ahead of names like Els, Nicklaus, Garcia, Sorenstam and Daly (to name a select few).

And the states own 5-foot-1-inch, 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa becomes the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut in a PGA TOUR event. And he follows it up with a sizzling Saturday 66 in front of the home town fans at the Sony Open.

Fujikawa stumbled Sunday, double-bogeying the third hole and finishing with a 2-over 72 that placed him tied for 20th for the week.

Never mind Sunday.

Fujikawa was the story of the week and is, arguably, the story of the year in a young 2007 season that brings us Mickelsons debut next week in the California desert and Woods' debut the week after that at the Buick Invitational near San Diego.

The first and obvious question is: Whats next for Tadd Fujikawa? He doesnt have to go back to high school until Tuesday. But lets look a little farther down the road.

One tournament director told me late Sunday that Fujikawas electrifying performance at the Sony and the back-story of his life'he was born three and a half months premature and weighed 1 pound 15 ounces at birth'has not gone unnoticed.

Ive got to think a lot of tournament directors are now thinking that Tadd Fujikawa would be a good guy to have a relationship with, he said.

Relationships, in this context, mean incenting attractive players to return to your event once they become big stars. Its too early to predict greatness for Fujikawa. But his potential and his fan appeal are part of what sponsors exemptions are for.

You love to have players in your field that people are rooting for, the tournament director told me.

So dont be surprised if Fujikawa shows up again on the PGA TOUR this summer.

For his part, Fujikawa said and did all the right things all week long. And it all seemed to come so naturally. He even thanked Wie.

At 14 she almost made the cut (here), he told the Honolulu Advertiser. ..That really gave the Hawaii juniors something to strive for. I think it kind of told them, you know, you can do it, too. If she can do it, then you can do it, and gave them an inspiration to do better.

Back atcha. Im rooting for him, Wie said.

This grace came from Wie in the wake of a disappointing 78-76 and another missed cut on the PGA TOUR.

What about her immediate future?

We know she will attend Stanford University as a freshman in the fall. But much of her schedule for the rest of this year is a question mark. And the critics that say she shouldnt be competing against the men at all are out in force'with long knives.

Meanwhile, all credit to, of all publications, The Wall Street Journal, which offered a measured defense of the 17-year-old Wie.

Wie shows no signs of being stressed, The WSJ reported. We, on the other hand, are stuck with the uncomfortable task of figuring out what to make of her.

Since (winning the U.S. Womens Public Links at 13) .the trajectory of her career has been impetuous, erratic, fun, daring and contradictory'teen-ager-y, in other words'leaving us golf fans as befuddled, and occasionally angry, as actual parents of teens.

Back on the Fujikawa beat, my personal favorite Tadd moment came after Friday when he played the last three holes in 3 under par to make the weekend with strokes to spare.

Fujikawa told Golf Channel afterwards that he just wished that everybody could, at one time in their life, feel the way he did right then. This was a remarkable piece of poise from a 16-year-old who, in all the excitement, could have been excused for mumbling incoherently.

How could you not root for someone, who without a trace of disingenuosity, showed himself to be thinking about others when, indeed, the moment was all about him?

As the man said, you love to have players people are rooting for.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt

Related Links:

  • Leaderboard - Sony Open in Hawaii
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.