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Fujikawa proves destiny to play pro


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POSTED: Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barely 18 years old, Tadd Fujikawa electrified the golf world last weekend for the second time in two years, stealing the spotlight this time from Sony Open champion Zach Johnson. Fujikawa's spectacular performance should remove any doubt that he belongs, sooner rather than later, on the PGA Tour.

In June 2006, then-15-year-old Fujikawa became the youngest player since 1941 to qualify for the U.S. Open. Upon turning 16 two years ago, he became the youngest in 50 years to make the weekend cut on the PGA Tour, eventually finishing tied for 20th if he had been a professional. He turned pro soon afterward and finished tied for 32 this time, earning nearly $30,000.

Fujikawa's display last Saturday was even more spectacular. After inexplicably required to enter the tournament by winning a qualifying contest, he barely made the weekend cut, then lit up Waialae Country Club. His nine birdies put him at the top of the leaderboard for nearly two hours with a score of 62, a stroke off the course record and the lowest PGA score ever on any course by a golfer so young.

The achievement is made more remarkable by his inspirational life story. Born prematurely at two pounds, doctors gave Fujikawa a 50-50 chance to survive. Instead, he grew to 5-foot-1, enough to keep up with professionals weighing twice or more his 110 pounds.

The regular pros are awed. "What he did this week should be inspiring, not only to himself but to other kids," 2007 Masters champion Johnson said. "That kid is going to get - whatever he gets, he deserves."