Breakaway: Fujikawa rolls to 5-shot lead at Mid-Pac


POSTED: Saturday, April 18, 2009

No bogeys? Check. No par putts longer than Tadd Fujikawa's height? Check.

Fujikawa, an 18-year-old (and 5-foot-2) Moanalua High senior, marked off those items in the second round of the 51st Mid-Pacific Open and is poised to collect another check heading into the weekend in Lanikai.

The tournament's defending champion gave a seemingly effortless performance with a 6-under 66 in pristine conditions at Mid-Pacific Country Club, lowering his two-round score to 9-under 135. T.J. Kua, a freshman on the University of Hawaii golf team, is five shots back at 4-under 140 after posting a 69 yesterday.

Michael Monaghan and Christian Akau (both at 3-under 141) join Kua as those with the best chance of closing the gap. Three-time winner David Ishii (1-under 143) could also make a comeback among those who made the cut at 152 (pros) and 157 (championship flight).

The leaders tee off at 8:57 a.m. Play starts at 7 a.m.

After a rocky start to his professional career, it's been smooth paydays for Fujikawa of late. He finished tied for 52nd at the Honda Classic in Florida and tied for 31st at the Puerto Rico Open, making it three straight PGA Tour made cuts after his 32nd-place finish at the Sony Open in January.

He hasn't missed a beat since returning home. Fujikawa punctuated his superb, 30-putt round with a 6-foot birdie and fist pump on his final hole.

He never got himself into trouble he couldn't handle, and his only signs of frustration came on a handful of missed birdie putts.

“;I've been playing well recently,”; Fujikawa said. “;Feel good with my swings; it's slowly coming around. (My game), a little bit, needs some work, but it's pretty decent. Hopefully I can get the putter going a little bit more (this weekend).”;

Fujikawa, who doesn't plan on going to college—immediately, anyway—said he will continue to play events of his choosing with exemptions. Next week, he's in the Chunichi Crown in Japan.

Not that he's overlooking playing against the local professionals and amateurs. He has a chance to become the first repeat winner at the Mid-Pac since Regan Lee won three straight from 2002 to '04. Last year, Fujikawa bested the veteran Ishii by seven strokes to become the youngest winner of the tournament at 17. It was also his first made cut and victory as a professional.

Ishii owns the Mid-Pac Open four-round record score at 17 under. If the perfect weather holds up, Fujikawa could threaten the mark. Fujikawa and Ishii, playing partners once again, entered the day tied at 3 under, but the youngster quickly asserted himself with three birdies on the front nine.

Ishii, meanwhile, wasn't used to the windless conditions at normally blustery Mid-Pac and went 2 over for the day.

“;Tadd played real good today,”; Ishii acknowledged. “;He played pretty much the same way yesterday, except he missed some short putts. He's hitting the ball pretty good, hitting his irons well. If he plays like that every day, then it's hard to make up ground. But you know, if the wind picks up and he doesn't play as well, then we have a little chance.”;

Kua, last year's top amateur, is putting on his blinders and is keeping the competition between himself and the course.

“;Just focus on myself, and not focus on what's going on out there,”; Kua said of his strategy.