Tadd Fujikawa said he is turning professional not for the money, but to fulfill his dreams.
Tadd is tough enough
TADD Fujikawa going pro?
At age 16?
(Didn't we just see this?)
Hold on. Wasn't the thing we liked about Tadd Fujikawa was that he wasn't a professional? That he didn't have the hype and the high life and the marketing machine of a certain other local golfer? Wasn't it his exuberance and his innocence?
Wasn't the thing we loved about Taddy Boy -- there, the name itself says it all -- that he was one of us, just a regular everyday public-school local kid? The boy next door?
And wouldn't going pro, playing for money, turning it into a job, kind of peel away the fairy tale, strip away the innocence, ratchet up expectations, tone down the fearlessness, temper the joy?
Didn't we just see that happen with a certain other local golfer?
Well, yes. To all aforementioned questions.
BUT HERE IS the thing: He's got something inside of him. We've all seen it. That smile is real. That joy is real. That heart is real. It all but comes jumping right out of his chest.
He's tougher than a pro paycheck (or lack of one). It won't daunt him. It won't break him. Oh, there will be hard times, but his personality will remain intact. He'll come out smiling -- glowing -- on the other side.
But if he becomes a PGA Tour pro -- and allow me to mangle the official tour motto, whoever makes it that far, they're all good -- Fujikawa won't be a Tiger Woods, he won't be a Phil Mickelson or a Vijay Singh, no. He's probably not going to be a top-5 superstar. He'll probably be a Dean Wilson, but with a bigger grin.
So if he can get some sponsors now, if he can get some exemptions into tournaments now, and a little appearance money, and get some momentum rolling early, and if he can do it without first going through 10 years of grinding in order to get to that point -- how can he turn it down?
We saw in this year's Sony Open what he does with a little momentum on his side.
It's tough to see an era end. You hate to see a childhood end. You wish they could all be Colt Brennans, and come back for just one more year.
It's a little sad. The thing we loved about Tadd Fujikawa was that he was a Moanalua Menehune, he was innocent and exuberant, a fearless, free-swinging kid. And these kind of fairy tales usually end when the amateur status does.
But he is tough, too. He is more than that smile. He is a tremendous worker, a tremendous winner. He is a tough, tough young man.
He isn't getting these opportunities because of what he is -- an amazing young golfer with an attractive story line -- but because of who he is. He's got something inside of him. We've all seen it. That smile is real. That joy is real. That heart is real. It all but comes jumping right out of his chest.
Which is a good thing, with what he's getting into. He'll need all of that. Here's hoping he and his family have studied the lessons of Ty Tryon and Michelle Wie.
He has the personality to handle this, and the charisma, and the humility, and maybe the game. But most of all, he'll need that toughness. It's hard to turn professional. That's what Michelle is currently showing us. It's hard to be a professional. It's harder than any of us knows.