Fujikawa got a Tadd bit of attention
Tadd Fujikawa was born 3 1/2 months premature, he weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces.|
But he hasn't been famous until just now.
"I'd like to thank the Kapiolani Hospital and the nurses and the staff," he says.
HE WAS hitting second on the first tee.
On June 15, as most of his home state slept (and a few of the young and reckless stumbled home and into bed), Tadd Fujikawa sat in the locker room at the U.S. Open and played his round in his mind. It's a habit he has, to envision every fairway, every green, every shot. He sat there and saw it, and the minutes passed.
And when it was time he got up and walked out, into the New York sunshine, and the explosion that awaited when they opened the door.
HE WASN'T NERVOUS, that was the funny thing. Even though he was officially the youngest person to ever play in the U.S. Open, at 15 and change. Even though he had just finished his freshman year at Moanalua High School. We've seen the pressure of the U.S. Open turn seasoned pros into puddles -- in fact we just did see the Open turn pros into puddles (Phil Mickelson still has yet to return to solid form).
But Fujikawa just found the whole atmosphere delicious, and he was eating it up at every turn.
Some people are just born for stuff like this. Fujikawa basked in it, soaked it in.
"Now I definitely know how Michelle feels," he says. "And how Tiger feels. It's ... I don't know if everybody would like it. But I like it. I'm sure Michelle likes it. It's something that I'll definitely remember."
No, as he headed for the hurricane, he wasn't nervous. Not even a little bit.
SO MANY VOICES. Over and over, his name. They called for him as they crowded the fence, so many people, so many faces, like the red carpet at a blockbuster movie premiere. They were shouting for him as he walked, a tunnel of humanity. He was the Beatles, circa 1964.
"This past couple weeks has definitely been a little overwhelming, and certainly been kind of stressful and busy," he says. "But I like all the attention." He giggles just talking about it. He can't help it.
"I don't know," he says. "It's just me."
They were asking for autographs, and he was answering, eschewing the pro athlete's usual see-nothing stare. No, he saw. He answered.
"After," he said.
He's a kid from Hawaii -- his family calls him "Taddy Boy." It isn't in him to be impolite. He answered them as they called his name.
Can you imagine? With every step, a nod, a word, a wave.
He shouted back. Saw every face. Tried to acknowledge everyone who yelled for him. Reveled in their energy. Soaked it in.
"I just felt really comfortable. And all these people behind me and supporting me made me feel more comfortable," he says.
Maybe he giggled as he walked. We don't know. But probably. That's just him.
HE ARRIVED EARLY, at the tee box, his playing partners already there. They waited. He stood inside the ropes, letting it build. He wasn't nervous, you can't call it that, but it felt good. Excitement. Anticipation. He always feels like that, and this was the U.S. Open and all he could do was wait.
It was so delicious, letting it build.
He was hitting second on the first tee.
And then they announced him. A roar.
Then he hit it, and Tadd Fujikawa, 15, walked into history, an entire gallery shouting his name.