After impressive Sony Open, can Hawaii's Tadd Fujikawa win off the islands?
I’ll admit it: I was player-hating. On Saturday when I checked in on the scores at the Sony Open in Honolulu to see where hometown pepperpot Tadd Fujikawa was on the leaderboard, I started from the bottom up.
After scrolling about halfway up I wondered if I was looking at the wrong tournament, or if he ended up withdrawing. Alas, his name was way, way up near the top before finishing with a respectable T32 and a $29,237 paycheck that should pay the bills for a few months and take a little pressure off.
So now Tadd will carry some momentum over to the mainland, where he hasn’t had much success since turning professional in 2007. I’m not necessarily sold that his finish this week will be a spring board for him. Lest we forget, he finished 20th at this same event in 2007. So his brilliant 62 on Friday, which tied the course record, drew some eyes, but the fact remains the kid is young and unproven and might have been better served playing NCAA golf for a few years - but that’s just conservative grandpa in me talking I suppose. I’d like to think that if I encountered a similar, tempting decision on whether to chase some cash or go the traditional, college route, I’d be more Tim Tebow/Tim Duncan than Michelle Wie/Tadd Fujikawa.
Then again, you never really know how you’re going to react until given the opportunity and you weigh family circumstances at the time.
TravelGolf.com blogger Ron Mon offered an interesting tidbit about native Hawaiians and their lack of success on the mainland. I’ve not watched Tadd’s ball flight close enough to determine he’s your classic, Hawaii low-ball hitter, but his great success in Hawaii and lack of it off leads me to believe he still has to learn to hit all the shots necessary in the PGA Tour’s target golf-heavy schedule. It’s a different game on the upcoming southwestern and Florida swings.
With a father in legal trouble for drugs, little Tadd has to grow up fast. He’s become an instant crowd favorite, who never get tired of cheering for - in this case literally - the little guy. I think golf fans everywhere are hoping we haven’t heard the last of Tadd in 2009.
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Like practically everyone else, I really like Tadd. It would be difficult not to like him.
As for Tadd ever winning a PGA event, as much as we would all love to see that happen, I've got to believe that only a major miracle would put Tadd in the winner's circle.
Tadd's diminutive stature is simply too much to overcome against the big hitters. Some will say, "What about Ian Woosnam?" Ian's good play happened quite a few years ago; in other words, that was then and this is now. The competition today is bigger, better, and more numerous.
And Ian was a big guy compared to Tadd. So is Craig Parry.
Incidentaly the tournament course record at Wailalei is 61, set by David Toms a few years ago.
Alex USMC 1969-73