Tadd cruises at Mid-Pac


POSTED: Monday, April 20, 2009

His drives went behind trees, landed 50 yards off fairways and sent spectators ducking for cover.

None of it mattered. Tadd Fujikawa stayed composed through some erratic play and captured the Mid-Pacific Open in Lanikai once again.

Fujikawa defended his title at the 51st Mid-Pac with an even-par 72, treading water with superb pitches while the rest of the pro and amateur field struggled to stay afloat. He finished at 12-under 276 as one of only two players to land in the red.

The 18-year-old Moanalua High senior fell short of David Ishii's Mid-Pac record 17 under, but set the mark for the largest margin of victory with his nine-stroke advantage over Ishii, the runner-up for the second straight year.

He posted impressive chip shots, setting himself up for par saves on four straight holes—Nos. 8 to 11—to negate some un-Tadd-like drives.

“;It's always a good feeling when you're not playing too well and still manage a good score,”; Fujikawa said. “;Today was my worst round that I've played in a while, but somehow you manage to get the ball in the hole and do the best that you can with what you got that day. That's just golf, and everyone goes through it. Learning how to still shoot a decent score even when you're not playing good is something you learn through experience.”;

Travis Toyama finished third after completing his round and the tournament at even par.

After three days devoid of wind allowed Fujikawa to wreak havoc on the course, Mother Nature (and course superintendent Jason Amoy) finally had their say. Between unusual westerly winds and the usual devious Sunday pin placements, he was held to two birdies against two bogeys.

Of course, no one else found the going any easier. Ishii (2-over 74 yesterday, 3-under 285 overall) trailed by seven strokes entering the day and was unable to make up ground, and the others in the leaders group—amateurs T.J. Kua and Christian Akau—gradually succumbed.

Fujikawa, who was the tourney's youngest winner at 17 last year, won $14,000, while Ishii pocketed $10,000.

“;Tadd played well. He scrambled really good,”; said Ishii, 53, a three-time winner. “;He could have been a few over, but he got up and down on 8, 9 from the back of the (cart path), 10 from the front of the green, 11 on the right side of the green. If he had not gotten up and down on those, then it might be a different story, or a little tighter at least. But he pitches the ball real well, and putts those short putts well. He played strong, and there's no catching him when he's making pars.”;

Fujikawa became the first back-to-back winner at Mid-Pac since Regan Lee won a record three straight from 2002 to '04. But the teenager, who is playing the Chunichi Crown in Japan next week, said he's undecided on defending his title next year.

Punahou junior Bradley Shigezawa won the championship (top amateur) flight by shooting 3 over yesterday and outlasting Akau on the second playoff hole after they tied at 2-over 290. It was sweet redemption for Shigezawa, who lost to Kua in a playoff last year.

Akau, a 2002 Kamehameha graduate, lost his ball on No. 2 with a bad drive and was forced to tee off again.

Shigezawa made par for the safe win.

“;I just can't believe it happened,”; Shigezawa said. “;I was so far back coming into today, the course was playing really tough and I didn't feel particularly well (about my round) today. I'm just fortunate to have an opportunity.”;