Hawaiian teen phenom heading to Q-School

By Doug FergusonOctober 21, 2009, 12:45 am

Nothing has come easily to Tadd Fujikawa.

He started the year by going through a Monday qualifier to get in the Sony Open, where he shot a 62 in the third round to give himself a chance at becoming the PGA Tour’s youngest winner. He ends the year by making his first foray into Q-school, where he must get through 252 holes over three stages to earn his card.

Along the way, Fujikawa achieved two milestones that should help him keep it all in perspective.

He got his driver’s license in April. Two months later, he graduated from Moanalua High School in Honolulu.

“It was nice to be done with that,” he said.

Diploma in hand, now comes his first big test.

Some might equate Q-school with his first job interview, although Fujikawa is not the typical qualifier. It has been more than two years and two dozen tournaments since the 18-year-old turned pro.

Part of him is in a rush to get to where he wants to go. Another part of him knows the journey is just beginning.

“It’s really hard to say if I am where I expected myself to be,” Fujikawa said after arriving at St. Johns Golf & Country Club in St. Augustine, Fla., where his 72-hole exam starts Wednesday against a field of 70 players. “I’m very pleased with what I’ve done thus far. But I also wish I could have done more.”

Fujikawa is among more than 900 players who have signed up for the first stage of Q-school, which will be played out over the next two weeks at 13 sites. That group includes the son of Jack Nicklaus (Gary Nicklaus), the grandson of Arnold Palmer (Sam Saunders) and Rickie Fowler, who tied for seventh last week in Las Vegas in his first PGA Tour start as a pro.

For a teenager fresh out of high school, the pressure to perform is nothing new.

At only 5-foot-1, Fujikawa got his first taste of the big-time when he was 15 and competed at Winged Foot in 2006 as the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Open. Six months later, he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour when he shot 66 in the second round of the Sony Open.

The kid knows all about disappointment, too.

He still had two years left in high school when he turned pro in the summer of 2007. Over the next year, he missed the cut 10 straight times on four tours before he finally made it to the weekend of a sanctioned tournament when he tied for 48th in Japan. Fujikawa didn’t earn his first PGA Tour check until this year at the Sony Open.

The biggest test now is tempering expectations.

Fujikawa made three out of four cuts on the PGA Tour this year. He tied for 15th on the Nationwide Tour, then flew to Japan and tied for 31st without having time to play a practice round.

Odds are stacked against anyone making it through all three stages of Q-school. Of more than 1,200 players who signed up last year, only eight made it through three stages, the youngest of which was 24-year-old Kansas grad Gary Woodland.

For Fujikawa, consider this his freshman year in college.

“Basically what I told him was, ‘We’re not going to evaluate you until you’re 21 or 22,”’ said Todd Anderson, the Sea Island swing coach who has been working with Fujikawa the last few years. “What I’ve tried to stay away from is, ‘You’ve got to be here by this time.’ I’ve told him to figure out what other players are doing and see how you stack up. Have fun and see how good you can get.

“He’s really hard on himself. He has high expectations. And the last thing I want to do is put more on him.”

Anderson first met Fujikawa during a practice round at Winged Foot, and then at Sea Island after Fujikawa missed the cut at a junior event. His mother, Lori, asked Anderson if he would mind looking at her son’s swing. That’s when Anderson realized Fujikawa had spent years trying to figure out golf on his own and doing a pretty good job of it. They worked until dark that day.

“You can’t ask for a better student,” Anderson said. “He’s very open, very receptive and very patient for a kid that age.”

Fujikawa already has gone through an extreme of emotions this year.

He created a frenzy at Waialae in January by making nine birdies in his round of 62 that left him two shots out of the lead going into the final round of the Sony Open, where he shot 73 on the last day and tied for 32nd.

Two weeks later, he sat in a courtroom as his father pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree drug trafficking. Derrick Fujikawa, who said that he hid his addiction from his family for years, received a 10-year sentence in August. The judge set a one-year minimum sentence because of the father’s rehabilitation since the arrest.

“He’s doing a lot better with his life, and I’m real happy for him,” Fujikawa said. “I’m not worried about that anymore.”

His main concern at the moment is being among the 20 or so players who advance from the first stage. Fujikawa has revamped his swing in hopes of more consistent ball flight. He feels as though his game is close.

Being close, though, is all relative.

“Of course, I always want to do well,” Fujikawa said. “But right now is not as important as two or three years down the road.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

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.