Fujikawa’s magic returns for an encore
AND then, he birdied 9.
The day's first fist pump, over and over and over again. He kept hitting. It was like he was doing a cooking show: Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!
He was cooking all right. He was cooking now.
Then 10. A second shot that sat there perfectly, right next to the cup.
"(A major historical, religious and spiritual figure)!" a photographer said.
It was that kind of moment, that kind of shot. It was a prayer answered, at yesterday's Sony Open in Hawaii final round. Another birdie. More emotion.
The Tadd magic was back.
"If he never plays another round of golf ..." a man in the gallery would say later, as he walked up 18.
Yes, Tadd Fujikawa woke up his own echoes, lived up to his own legend, yesterday, after all. He closed it out in style instead of fading away.
On 1, he looked nervous. A double bogey on 3 (he got a bad break when his perfect drive landed in a divot), and he was an amateur after all. Another bogey on the next hole, he was back to being some sophomore, a 16-year-old kid.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Moanalua High's Tadd Fujikawa said that the large crowds following him through the tournament enabled him to play as well as he did.
On 9 he hit a weekend duffer's shot, low and short.
But then on the green and then the putt, and then the fist pump.
Chicken skin. Yet again.
He hadn't lost the glass slipper yet.
To this point it had been quiet, it lacked magic. Like it had been a nice story, but hey ...
"I just couldn't get anything going today," Tadd said. "I made a couple of good putts, but just momentum wasn't there."
Sure, for his new standards, I guess you could say that. But, 16! A 72 on the final day of a PGA Tour event! Tied for 20th; 5 under for the tournament!
It's a miracle. No, wait, it isn't a miracle. He's just that good, that's the best part.
"You know," Fujikawa said, "Nick Faldo yesterday when I did my interview, he said, 'You know, you have the game to play out here as of right now.' I thought that was really nice of him to say that. That really motivates me right there."
"I'm proud of him," playing partner Jim Furyk would say.
Everyone was, yesterday. You could hear it, feel it. This day was tougher, but he was still smiling, still waving, still hugging relatives before hitting shots.
"Granny's there," Furyk said.
Of course she was.
Everyone was, all the way down the fairway, as far as you could see.
"I think," Fujikawa said, "this (Sony Open tournament) is probably the best that I've played. I think all of these people out here supporting me has driven me to hit better shots because I'm sure everybody likes when the crowd goes crazy and starts yelling.
"I don't know if everybody does," he said, "but I do anyway."
Yes, he does. You should have seen it, yesterday, as he walked up 18 for the final time. The applause kept building, rolling, never stopping. "You're the man, bool!" some guy yelled. The clapping getting louder the longer Tadd walked.
And then a great out of the bunker, and one last birdie putt. They went crazy, and he doffed his cap, everywhere, answering the noise. Danny Kaleikini grabbed him and kissed him.
And then Tadd Fujikawa turned around to take all of it in one last time before leaving the 18th green.
Then the mob scene. Autographs and screaming, the giddy chaos, the happy cramming. It was insane and wonderful and ridiculous and fun. All the high school girls -- Tadd is 5-foot-1 and, um, solid -- had found their latest Tiger Beat crush. You should have heard them, should have seen them.
My goodness, it was great.
It has to change you, four days like this.
"No, probably not," Tadd Fujikawa would say. "I mean, I'm probably going to get a lot more people saying, 'Oh, aren't you the kid who plays golf and did this and that.'
"No, I'm still the same person. I'm still going to eat and sleep, and nothing is going to change like that. Still going to practice golf, of course."
Still, what a week, what a day. What magic. What a ride.
"Playing with the No. 2 player in the world on a Sunday," someone said, "it has to be a memory."
Yes, you could see it, as he and Jim Furyk walked together to the next tee.
"You're good too, Jim!" someone said.