WHEN SOPHOMORETadd Fujikawa came back to Moanalua High School in Honolulu on the Tuesdayafter Martin Luther King Day, his principal, Robin Martin, greeted him byplacing a lei around his neck. The Honolulu mayor, Mufi Hannemann, visited thehigh school and declared it Tadd Fujikawa Day. And many of his fellow studentswho had never paid much attention to him were saying things like, "Hey,you're that kid who golfs!"
They might haveadded "like a professional." Over the previous weekend the 16-year-oldFujikawa had become the youngest player in 50 years to make a cut at a PGA Tourevent, at the Sony Open in Honolulu. He ultimately finished tied for 20th,ahead of stars like Vijay Singh and John Daly—had Fujikawa not been an amateur,he would have won about $50,000. By the final day the 5'1" Fujikawa wasalso the center of attention, followed by droves of fans and featured onSportsCenter highlights. "The whole thing was a dream," says Fujikawa,who shot a five-under 275 after earning his Sony spot in a qualifier for localamateurs.
Fujikawa is notyour typical golf prodigy. A native Hawaiian of Japanese descent, he was bornthree months premature to parents—his mother, Lori, is an office clerk; hisfather, Derrick, a construction manager—who don't play golf. He was taught thegame by his mother's cousin, Judy, at age eight and began playing whenever hecould, a habit that continues. "He plays after school, he does his homeworkand then he practices," Lori says. "You never have to tell him to doanything."
Fujikawa wants toplay pro golf someday but says he's in no hurry. ("Maybe when I'm 21.")For now he plans to play in junior amateur events—and when his schedulepermits, with his high school. Last year he finished third in the statetournament, his school 12th. "The Number 5 player on the team shoots in the90s, but it doesn't matter," says Fujikawa. "We're all friends. It'sfun to be on a team."
January 29, 2007