Moanalua sophomore Tadd Fujikawa watched his tee shot on the 10th tee during the first round yesterday.
Fujikawa still smiling after shooting 81
MAMARONECK, N.Y. » Tadd Fujikawa hit just eight fairways on his way to an 81 in the first round of the U.S. Open yesterday.
But the mighty mite from Moanalua said he would continue to use his driver on almost all of the par 4s and 5s at Winged Foot in today's second round.
It's not hard-headedness or youthful folly. Fujikawa is the youngest player in U.S. Open history at 15, but he's old enough to know the only chance he had of making the cut today is to continue to go for it.
"Not too many adjustments for (the second round)," Fujikawa said in a phone interview after yesterday's round. "I'll pretty much stick to the game plan."
Fujikawa's 11-over-par round of 41-40 included three double-bogeys and two bogeys. It left him tied for 140th in the 156-player field.
But the kid wore a big smile, even after he didn't make a single birdie.
"I feel OK. Pretty much the conditions made things difficult. I hit a lot of good shots," Fujikawa said yesterday afternoon, while some players were still on the course. "Near the end of the round the course dried up and made it even more difficult. In the morning it was more windy than it is right now."
The biggest thrill was being introduced at the first tee, Fujikawa said.
"The fans were great. When they announced my name, everyone started yelling for me. I'm having a great time," he said.
Fujikawa said he learned yesterday he is the youngest player in U.S. Open history. The USGA initially said the Fujikawa would be the second-youngest player to participate in an Open, behind only Tyrell Garth Jr., who played in 1941.
But after contacting Garth at his home in Texas on Wednesday, the USGA had to amend the record book. Turns out Garth was 15 years, 11 months and 27 days when he played. That's actually older than Fujikawa, who yesterday was 15 years, 6 months, 7 days.
Fujikawa, who stands 5-foot-1 and weighs about 135 pounds, officially put his name in the record book when he teed off at 9:12 a.m.
He four-putted No. 1 en route to a double bogey and added three more 6s after that before walking off the course with absolutely no complaints.
"It was a lot of fun out there, actually," he said. "I think I missed a couple of drives that cost me a couple of double bogeys, (but) my score didn't really tell how my day went."
The point was that he was a 15-year-old playing in the U.S. Open, and that in itself was reason to be proud.
"Just being here and having the crowd behind you and supporting you, it's a really good feeling," he said. "It's the U.S. Open, so I better have fun. No matter what I shoot, I'll have fun."
Fujikawa said he wasn't nervous, even though he'd never before played in front of so many people or in such a prestigious tournament.
His mother hung around well after the round and said Tadd wished he'd done better.
"But he's not down or anything," Lori Fujikawa said. "He just wants to get out there tomorrow and try again."
Fujikawa's swing coach, Kevin Ralbovsky, said it was one of the toughest layouts he'd seen.
"The course was unbelievably difficult with a very small margin of error. A lot of good shots end up in bad places. Then you add in the wind and par is a great score," he said.
Castle graduate Dean Wilson led briefly at 1-under after birdies on two of the first three holes. He finished the day tied for 68th at 6-over with 39-37--76.
Star-Bulletin reporter Dave Reardon and the Associated Press contributed to this report.