We May See A Tadd More


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.

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Related Links:

  • Leaderboard - Sony Open in Hawaii
  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii