Fujikawa Qualifies For Sony Open

In 2006, Hawaiian teen became youngest U.S. Open contestant

January 13, 2009

Tadd Fujikawa, who at age 15 years, 6 months and 7 days became the youngest competitor in U.S. Open history at Winged Foot Golf Club in 2006, qualified for the 2009 Sony Open on Monday at Turtle Bay Resort's Arnold Palmer Course.

Less than a week after celebrating his 18th birthday, Fujikawa, a Honolulu resident who turned pro in 2007 after his sophomore year in high school, carded a 5-under-par 67 to share medalist honors with Alex Aragon and Junpei Takayama to garner one of the four available berths into the PGA Tour's first full-field event of the season at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. John Lepak birdied the first playoff hole to best two others for the final berth.

"I feel pretty good," the Moanalua High School senior told the Honolulu Advertiser. "I'm very excited about being back at Sony. I've been really, really working hard. All the help from coaches and support from family and friends and all my hard work is paying off."

Two years ago at 16, Fujikawa also qualified for the Sony Open and shocked everyone by becoming the youngest player in 50 years to make a PGA Tour cut, carding 4-under 66s in rounds two and three and finishing at 5-under 275 (T-20). It happened at the same time that another precocious Hawaiian teenager, Michelle Wie, was in the field on a sponsor's exemption but failed to make the cut.

But since Fujikawa turned pro in July of 2007, he has struggled, missing 16 of 18 cuts in events on the PGA, European, Nationwide and Japan tours, including the 2008 Sony Open when organizers gave him a sponsor's exemption. He is 0 for 6 in PGA Tour events. His lone victory since turning pro has been the Mid-Pacific Open, a local event.

On Monday, Fujikawa birdied the par-5 18th hole to secure his spot in the field and avoid a possible playoff for the final spots.

"I figured 67 would be pretty close to the number," said Fujikawa, whose bogey-free round also included birdies on holes three, six, nine and 14. "I knew I had to make birdie to have a good chance."

Fujikawa won't be the only teen in the field. Lorens Chan, 14, of Honolulu, earned a spot by winning an amateur qualifier. Chan qualified for the 2008 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst, but missed the match-play cut after shooting 10-over 150.

The 72-hole Sony Open begins Thursday. K.J. Choi of South Korea is the defending champion.

Compiled by USGA Digital Media staff writer David Shefter



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