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.”

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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.