Go for It Tadd
At the tender age of 16, Tadd Fujikawa, the hero of last Januarys Sony Open in Hawaii, makes his professional debut this week. When Tadd tees off on the PGA TOUR at the Reno-Tahoe Open he will begin what I believe is going to be a long and successful journey as a pro. Will Tadds performance be a smashing success immediately? I doubt it. Given time does Tadd have the tools and potential improvement to be able to compete on the PGA TOUR? Absolutely! Why then was the decision made to turn pro now? The answer is simple economics.
When Tadd made the decision several weeks ago, amongst the pundits there were many more naysayers then there were proponents. The reasoning from those against the decision was pretty typical from too young to look at what has happened to Michelle Wie. I have supported Tadds desire to be a professional now and will continue to. The Fujikawas situation is not anything at all like the Wies. The biggest difference, I think, is that Tadd really had no choice if he wanted to improve his game.
Tadds story has been well documented. He was born very premature at a weight of less than 2 pounds and struggled physically for much of his early life. At one point he was given less than a 50/50 chance to live.
Through it all and even still today Tadd and his family have lived a modest life. Traveling the world playing amateur golf and attending high level instructional academies for the Fujikawas has just not been financially feasible. For all of the promising junior golfers in Hawaii, the remote geographic location of the islands has always been a challenge. Many have even had to move to the mainland to pursue their careers. Tadd and his family do not want to have to do that.
Even since the day he was born, Tadd Fujikawa has been a small person physically. Even today he stands just 51 tall barely more than his driver. But Tadd has always been a survivor a fighter and the owner of an enormous heart. He also has always had a dream and that was to play golf and to make a living at it. Today, Tadds opportunity to do that became a reality.
The most important thing for Tadd right now is to continue on a path of improvement. It doesnt need to be dramatic just steady. In order to accomplish this Tadd needs to be able to get the highest level of instruction and experience top notch competition on a regular basis. All of that takes money. So while many will say that Tadd Fujikawa turned professional too early. I disagree. He had no other option.
Thats MY View.
Editors Note: Mark Rolfing, a Maui resident, is one of the leading forces in sports event marketing and production in Hawaii. As NBC Sports award-winning golf commentator, Rolfing continues to cover top golf events such as the prestigious Ryder Cup, The Players Championship and The U.S Open. Rolfing also hosts Golf Hawaii on The Golf Channel. Golf Hawaii, now in its twelfth season is one of the longest running sports shows in the nation.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.
Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.
McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.
He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.
McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65).
Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds.
“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.
Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.
Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.
Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.