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.