Hawaiian teen phenom heading to Q-School

By Doug FergusonOctober 21, 2009, 12:45 am

Nothing has come easily to Tadd Fujikawa.

He started the year by going through a Monday qualifier to get in the Sony Open, where he shot a 62 in the third round to give himself a chance at becoming the PGA Tour’s youngest winner. He ends the year by making his first foray into Q-school, where he must get through 252 holes over three stages to earn his card.

Along the way, Fujikawa achieved two milestones that should help him keep it all in perspective.

He got his driver’s license in April. Two months later, he graduated from Moanalua High School in Honolulu.

“It was nice to be done with that,” he said.

Diploma in hand, now comes his first big test.

Some might equate Q-school with his first job interview, although Fujikawa is not the typical qualifier. It has been more than two years and two dozen tournaments since the 18-year-old turned pro.

Part of him is in a rush to get to where he wants to go. Another part of him knows the journey is just beginning.

“It’s really hard to say if I am where I expected myself to be,” Fujikawa said after arriving at St. Johns Golf & Country Club in St. Augustine, Fla., where his 72-hole exam starts Wednesday against a field of 70 players. “I’m very pleased with what I’ve done thus far. But I also wish I could have done more.”

Fujikawa is among more than 900 players who have signed up for the first stage of Q-school, which will be played out over the next two weeks at 13 sites. That group includes the son of Jack Nicklaus (Gary Nicklaus), the grandson of Arnold Palmer (Sam Saunders) and Rickie Fowler, who tied for seventh last week in Las Vegas in his first PGA Tour start as a pro.

For a teenager fresh out of high school, the pressure to perform is nothing new.

At only 5-foot-1, Fujikawa got his first taste of the big-time when he was 15 and competed at Winged Foot in 2006 as the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Open. Six months later, he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour when he shot 66 in the second round of the Sony Open.

The kid knows all about disappointment, too.

He still had two years left in high school when he turned pro in the summer of 2007. Over the next year, he missed the cut 10 straight times on four tours before he finally made it to the weekend of a sanctioned tournament when he tied for 48th in Japan. Fujikawa didn’t earn his first PGA Tour check until this year at the Sony Open.

The biggest test now is tempering expectations.

Fujikawa made three out of four cuts on the PGA Tour this year. He tied for 15th on the Nationwide Tour, then flew to Japan and tied for 31st without having time to play a practice round.

Odds are stacked against anyone making it through all three stages of Q-school. Of more than 1,200 players who signed up last year, only eight made it through three stages, the youngest of which was 24-year-old Kansas grad Gary Woodland.

For Fujikawa, consider this his freshman year in college.

“Basically what I told him was, ‘We’re not going to evaluate you until you’re 21 or 22,”’ said Todd Anderson, the Sea Island swing coach who has been working with Fujikawa the last few years. “What I’ve tried to stay away from is, ‘You’ve got to be here by this time.’ I’ve told him to figure out what other players are doing and see how you stack up. Have fun and see how good you can get.

“He’s really hard on himself. He has high expectations. And the last thing I want to do is put more on him.”

Anderson first met Fujikawa during a practice round at Winged Foot, and then at Sea Island after Fujikawa missed the cut at a junior event. His mother, Lori, asked Anderson if he would mind looking at her son’s swing. That’s when Anderson realized Fujikawa had spent years trying to figure out golf on his own and doing a pretty good job of it. They worked until dark that day.

“You can’t ask for a better student,” Anderson said. “He’s very open, very receptive and very patient for a kid that age.”

Fujikawa already has gone through an extreme of emotions this year.

He created a frenzy at Waialae in January by making nine birdies in his round of 62 that left him two shots out of the lead going into the final round of the Sony Open, where he shot 73 on the last day and tied for 32nd.

Two weeks later, he sat in a courtroom as his father pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree drug trafficking. Derrick Fujikawa, who said that he hid his addiction from his family for years, received a 10-year sentence in August. The judge set a one-year minimum sentence because of the father’s rehabilitation since the arrest.

“He’s doing a lot better with his life, and I’m real happy for him,” Fujikawa said. “I’m not worried about that anymore.”

His main concern at the moment is being among the 20 or so players who advance from the first stage. Fujikawa has revamped his swing in hopes of more consistent ball flight. He feels as though his game is close.

Being close, though, is all relative.

“Of course, I always want to do well,” Fujikawa said. “But right now is not as important as two or three years down the road.”

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”