In the rough

O, BY THE WAY

Growing pains

Last Word

January 12, 2008|By BILL ORDINE

Samuel Taylor Coleridge could have told teenage golfer Tadd Fujikawa that he might be in for some tough times. After the Hawaiian golfing prodigy became the youngest player in 50 years to make a PGA cut last year at the Sony Open in Hawaii (he was barely 16 at the time) and subsequently announced he was turning pro, Fujikawa hasn't been doing so hot.

In fact, one of his few noteworthy golfing accomplishments since he made a splash in the Sony last year came a few months later when he scored an albatross at a tournament in September in Switzerland. Actually, that's golf-ese for an extremely rare three-strokes-under-par hole or a double-eagle, and Fujikawa got his with his second shot on a 628-yard par-5.

Hmm, do they still teach The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in schools?

On Thursday, returning to the scene of the high school junior's greatest triumph so far, the Sony Open at Honolulu's Waialae Country Club, the 5-foot-1 Fujikawa shot a 4-over-par 74 in the first round.

At the time, that put him 10 strokes behind the leader and left him in desperate straits to make the cut yesterday. In the opening round, Fujikawa double-bogeyed the second hole, a 426-yard par-4, and then piled up three more bogeys on the front nine. He steadied himself on the back nine with a 1-under.

Last year as an amateur, Fujikawa finished 20th at this event (coincidentally, another teenage golf protege, Michelle Wie, played in the same tournament and missed the cut). Shortly after that, Fujikawa declared he was going pro.

Since then, he has played in several tournaments, mostly failing to make it to the third round, although he continued to show he has a flair for the dramatic with a hole-in-one in Boise.

There's a temptation to draw comparisons between Fujikawa and Wie as teenagers trying to do too much, too fast. However, in the young man's case, we don't see the same marketing gold rush. And he certainly hasn't became embroiled in the kind of controversies that have dogged Wie, such as when she withdrew from a tournament last year with a wrist injury while on the verge of being disqualified from LPGA-co-sponsored events for the year for shooting an 88.

Meanwhile, Fujikawa has his own, ahem, albatross to deal with - but if he makes it big, he knows what logo he can put on his golf shirts.

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