Finally The Teenager Makes a Cut

By Associated PressJanuary 12, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- Tadd Fujikawa keeps stealing the spotlight from Hawaii's other teenage golf star.

A day after Michelle Wie gave it a good run at Canoe Brook last summer in her bid to become the first woman to qualify for the U.S. Open, Fujikawa made it to Winged Foot by winning the sectional qualifier in Hawaii.

Friday brought the pint-sized sophomore in high school even more attention, and a far greater thrill.

Tadd Fujikawa
Tadd Fujikawa celebrates after draining an eagle putt on the 18th hole at the Sony Open.
With all the attention on Wie trying to make the cut in her fourth start at the Sony Open -- she wasn't even close -- it was Fujikawa who caused a stir at Waialae as he closed in on history. A 15-foot birdie on the 16th hole put him one shot inside the cut line. Then came a finish he won't soon forget, making a 15-foot eagle on the 18th hole for a 4-under 66.

Four days after turning 16, the 5-foot-1 Fujikawa became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA TOUR.

He tugged at his chubby cheeks with both hands as the significance began to sink in.

'I'm so excited,' Fujikawa said. 'Making the cut is an awesome thing for me right now. I wish everybody in the world could feel what I'm feeling now.'

Wie felt it from a distance.

The 17-year-old was wrapping up her press conference after a 76 to miss the cut by 14 shots when she heard a roar that resonated a half-mile away to the clubhouse. She was told that Fujikawa had made the cut in only his second PGA TOUR start (the other was an 81-77 showing at Winged Foot).

'I've never played with him or talked with him,' Wie said. 'It's great being how young he is. I'm rooting for him.'

Fujikawa is a remarkable story beyond his scores (71-66), which left him in a tie for 25th, eight shots behind.

He became the youngest player to make the cut since Bob Panasik at the 1957 Canadian Open at 15 years, 8 months. Ty Tryon was 16 years, 9 months when he made the cut in the 2001 Honda Classic.

Fujikawa was born 3 1/2 months premature and weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces, so small he could fit in his grandfather's palm. Doctors said it was 50-50 he would live, even less odds to live anything resembling a normal life. His parents were concerned he might have a mental disability or other problems come along.

He has been surprising everyone his entire life, especially after becoming the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Open since 1941.

That feeling was nothing like the one Friday.

The cameras finally arrived in the final hour, when Fujikawa was 2 under for the tournament playing the 14th hole. He missed a 3-foot par putt, then went well wide of the 15th green to drop another shot and fall to the cut line.

More trouble followed on the 16th, when his tee shot found a fairway bunker.

But he hit out to 15 feet and made the birdie putt, which led to a big fist pump. A bigger one followed.

Fujikawa assured himself of making the cut when he hit the fairway on the 551-yard closing hole, then hit a 6-iron from 207 yards that rolled onto the green and stopped some 15 feet below the cup.

Boo Weekley and Steve Wheatcroft were playing with him, and they graciously waited behind so Fujikawa could walk alone to the 18th green and soak in the applause. That gesture normally is reserved for champions, and the kid sure felt like one Friday.

The eagle putt was good all the way.

'I think when I made that putt on 18, that was the loudest roar I've ever heard in my life,' he said. 'That was unbelievable. I have no words to explain what that feels like.'

His actions spoke volumes.

Fujikawa dropped his putter and thrust his arms in the air, then thrust an uppercut into the air as a smile stretched across his face.

It might not leave him for awhile.

'I just felt like the fist pump would put the cherry on the cake right there,' he said.

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    T2 Stewart Cink -14 $462,000
    T2 Beau Hossler -14 $462,000
    T2 J.B. Holmes -14 $462,000
    T2 Paul Casey -14 $462,000
    T6 Kevin Tway -13 $234,500
    T6 Brian Harman -13 $234,500
    T6 Russell Henley -13 $234,500
    T9 Chase Seiffert -12 $189,000
    T9 Bryson DeChambeau -12 $189,000
    T9 Anirban Lahiri -12 $189,000
    T12 Rory McIlroy -11 $147,000
    T12 Ryan Blaum -11 $147,000
    T12 Jason Day -11 $147,000
    T15 Charley Hoffman -10 $115,500
    T15 Patrick Cantlay -10 $115,500
    T15 Danny Lee -10 $115,500
    T15 Kyle Stanley -10 $115,500
    T19 Brooks Koepka -9 $79,000
    T19 Fabian Gomez -9 $79,000
    T19 David Lingmerth -9 $79,000
    T19 Zach Johnson -9 $79,000
    T19 Emiliano Grillo -9 $79,000
    T19 Matt Jones -9 $79,000
    T19 Jamie Lovemark -9 $79,000
    T26 Sam Ryder -8 $49,700
    T26 Si Woo Kim -8 $49,700
    T26 Richy Werenski -8 $49,700
    T26 Blayne Barber -8 $49,700
    T26 Steve Marino -8 $49,700
    T26 Peter Malnati -8 $49,700
    T26 Patrick Rodgers -8 $49,700
    T33 Alex Cejka -7 $39,550
    T33 Tyler Duncan -7 $39,550
    T33 Kevin Streelman -7 $39,550
    T36 Seamus Power -6 $35,175
    T36 James Hahn -6 $35,175
    T38 Scott Stallings -5 $30,800
    T38 Russell Knox -5 $30,800
    T38 Brandon Harkins -5 $30,800
    T38 Lanto Griffin -5 $30,800
    T42 Adam Hadwin -4 $24,500
    T42 J.J. Henry -4 $24,500
    T42 Jordan Spieth -4 $24,500
    T42 Mackenzie Hughes -4 $24,500
    T42 Brett Stegmaier -4 $24,500
    T47 Billy Hurley III -3 $17,578
    T47 Vaughn Taylor -3 $17,578
    T47 Sam Saunders -3 $17,578
    T47 Kelly Kraft -3 $17,578
    T47 Keegan Bradley -3 $17,578
    T47 J.J. Spaun -3 $17,578
    T47 Wesley Bryan -3 $17,578
    T47 Denny McCarthy -3 $17,578
    T47 Scott Brown -3 $17,578
    T56 Ryan Armour -2 $15,680
    T56 Keith Mitchell -2 $15,680
    T56 Ken Duke -2 $15,680
    T56 Justin Thomas -2 $15,680
    T56 Hunter Mahan -2 $15,680
    T61 John Huh -1 $14,910
    T61 Martin Laird -1 $14,910
    T61 Steve Wheatcroft -1 $14,910
    T61 James Driscoll -1 $14,910
    T61 Tom Lovelady -1 $14,910
    T61 Nick Hardy -1 $14,910
    T67 Daniel Berger E $14,350
    T67 Trey Mullinax E $14,350
    T69 Cameron Tringale 1 $14,000
    T69 Kyle Thompson 1 $14,000
    T69 Ethan Tracy 1 $14,000
    T72 Dominic Bozzelli 2 $13,650
    T72 Martin Flores 2 $13,650
    74 Padraig Harrington 4 $13,440