Fujikawa trying to fit in on PGA Tour

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' Its easy to spot the teenagers at the Sony Open.
Theyre the ones who never seem to leave Waialae, lingering on the practice range or putting green, the dining room or locker room. Theyre the ones trying to soak up every minute of their PGA Tour experience.
Tadd Fujikawa should be used to this by now, but he had reason to leave the club three hours after his second round ended in near darkness. He was celebrating his first PGA Tour cut as a pro with dinner at an oceanfront hotel.
Ten hours later, he was back at Waialae on Saturday with the same big smile, ready to get back to work.
Nice going, Tadd, Ryuji Imada said to him, slapping hands as they passed each other in the locker room.
This is nothing new.
Two years ago, when he was 16, Fujikawa shot a 66 in the second round and became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour. He tied for 20th at the Sony Open, then decided to turn pro that summer.
It looked like another poor decision, especially at a time when Michelle Wie was in a free fall and Ty Tryon was MIA.
Fujikawa, however, comes from a meager background and couldnt afford too many trips to the mainland. He took sponsor exemptions while his name was still in the news, but it wasnt long before he became old news. He missed the cut in all six of his PGA Tour starts, three times on the European tour and was 2-for-4 in cuts made on the Japanese tour. His highest finish was a tie for 48th in The Crowns.
Including his victory in the Mid-Pacific Open, Fujikawas total earnings on the course are just under $20,000.
Asked at the start of the week if he had any regrets, the 5-foot-1 high school senior quickly shook his head and smiled. It is rare when he doesnt smile.
We probably wouldnt have too much money to travel and stuff, he said. It would have been tough. I wouldnt have the opportunity to play as many tournaments as I did if I stayed an amateur.
His plan the rest of the year is to graduate in May, then perhaps play the Tar Heel Tour or some other smaller circuit. Just like Wie when she was in high school, he is hurt by a schedule that precludes him from gaining momentum and building confidence.
But of all the experiences, this month might have provided the best.
Fujikawa, who grew up on municipal courses in Honolulu and is among the biggest draws at Waialae, did not receive a sponsors exemption. He had to go through a pre-qualifying round Sunday at Turtle Bay, then the Monday qualifier for one of four spots.
He noticed the difference between a handout and earning his way into the field.
The exemptions are good, and its an easy way to get in for me, he said. But the respect that I get from the other players, its a little different when you Monday qualify. Thats kind of the vibe that Ive gotten from the players. Its a good vibe. I really like it. It was an awesome feeling. Earning my way in and then making the cut is even better.
When he arrived Saturday morning, he had a green-and-white carry bag from Sea Island, where swing coach Todd Anderson lives. It was the bag he used during his two rounds of qualifying.
Good memories, he said.
Among those on the range Saturday morning was former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, who congratulated Fujikawa for his good play over two rounds of sometimes wet and constantly windy conditions.
Azinger said players have more respect for someone who goes through qualifying, but it matters most to the guy who earned it.
Its like someone who spends four hours putting, and then stands over a 4-foot putt that he absolutely has to make, Azinger said. You can say, I practiced for four hours to make a putt like this and I deserve to make this. Or you can say, I practiced for four hours to make a putt like this, and I better not miss it.
In a situation like that, I always felt like I earned the right to make the putt, he said. And Im sure thats how Tadd felt about his game. He worked hard, and that dude should be proud. Because it wasnt easy out here.
Fujikawa was on the cut line after nearly driving onto the street next to Waialae on his 15th hole. He knuckled down with drives that split the middle of the fairway, made easy pars, then finished with a two-putt birdie for a 69 to make the cut with one shot to spare.
Provided he doesnt get disqualified Sunday, he will cash his first PGA Tour check. His goal on the weekend was no different from other players ' post the lowest score possible and try to move up the leaderboard.
Two years ago, my expectation was to make the cut, but this year Im out there to win, he said. I know I can do it, and I think what Ive done with my game, and the improvements Ive made, hopefully by next year I can get my card and be on my way.
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    Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

    Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

    Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

    “The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.



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    Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

    She wondered if there would be resentment.

    She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

    “I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

    PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

    Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

    She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

    Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

    “It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

    Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

    He waved Lincicome over.

    “He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

    Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

    “The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

    Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

    Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

    “I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

    Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

    Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

    Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

    What are Lincicome’s expectations?

    She would love to make the cut, but . . .

    “Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

    Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

    “I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

    Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

    Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

    As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

    “The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

    Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

    The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

    “She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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    Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

    There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

    Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

    She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

    It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

    Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

    "It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

    Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”