We May See A Tadd More

By Brian HewittJanuary 14, 2007, 5:00 pm
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.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt

Related Links:

  • Leaderboard - Sony Open in Hawaii
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    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Purse: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.