Sounds like it could be any of several women who played last week at the McDonalds LPGA Championship. But Tadd Fujikawa is not a woman. He is male, yes he is short of stature, yes he is only 15, and yes he was beaten last month by Michelle Wie. But he is about to play in the U.S. Open, playing in a traditionally male tournament where a male of his age and stature only rarely make an appearance.
When youre 5-feet-1 and only 15, such comments are heady, indeed. To Tadd Fujikawa, it is doubly so. Especially when he finished no better than third in his local qualifier in Hawaii.
The winner of that local, incidentally, was a girl by the name of Wie, a 16-year-old who towers over Tadd by a full 12 inches. Wie, incidentally, missed qualifying at the sectional in New Jersey. Fujikawa, incidentally, went to the sectional in Hawaii as a result of finishing in the top three in his state (he sank a 65-foot putt to settle a three-way deadlock for third). And in the Hawaii sectional, with Wie gone to the sectional in New Jersey because she would be playing McDonalds in Maryland later that week ' Tadd won.
I think it's awesome! Wie said. I think it's great that he played really well in the sectional. I didn't really hear much about it. But I think it's awesome that as young as he is - how old is he? Like 15? 15? I think it's awesome.
Of course, Michelle Wie is the first name and last name of golf in Hawaii, and when she took her clubs and headed to New Jersey for the sectional, everyone who survived the local qualifier breathed much easier.
Yeah, I definitely felt my chances of qualifying would be better (with Wie gone), said Tadd. She's a great player.
But Tadd is the one who made it to Winged Foot, and now he might even get the ultimate prize ' no, not a U.S. Open championship, but a chance to play a practice round with Tiger Woods. Not bad at all for a 15-year-old.
This kid is not afraid to go for the top. He concedes that it may not happen ' he is not sure of Tigers plans, he said. But ' hes signed up to play with him.
Actually when I registered, at 7:00 o'clock, I needed to tee off early on the last day (Wednesday) because I needed to pick up my coach from the airport, he said. I looked at the first tee time right away and I saw Tiger's name. And there were two other people, I'm really not sure who, but I specifically remember Tiger's name up there.
I thought about it, and I went outside, and they said, Go for it. This is the chance of a lifetime. No one else is probably going to do this.
I said, You know what - I'll do that. I went back and luckily no one had filled their name in yet, so I put my name down. I don't know, we'll have a lot of fun tomorrow.
Well, bright lights, big city, as they say. Everything about this experience is turning up aces for young Tadd.
I think that it's really something special that I'm actually here, alive, not only at the U.S. Open, but just talking to everybody, and I guess being alive right now. I really think that it's ' I'm really grateful for that, he said.
Thankful for being alive? Yes, he is, especially coming from the place he was in, a premature hospital ward weighing less than two pounds.
I was born three and a half months premature I think the doctors said that I had probably a 50 percent chance of living, he said.
Tadd Fujikawa made it, hes going strong at 15 years of age, and is now on the verge of teeing off in the U.S. Open. And for a young man who is only 5-foot-1, that is a tremendous accomplishment. Its not the size of the man in the U.S. Open, its the size of the heart in the man.
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