No magic for Tadd this time around
By Ferd Lewis
Next to his house in Salt Lake, if there was a place on this island where Tadd Fujikawa had made himself most at home these last few years, it had surely been on the ninth hole at Waialae Country Club.
There, with a generous par five and a beckoning fairway, he had begun his emergence as a wunderkind and enjoyed some scrapbook moments.
In 11 Sony Open in Hawai'i rounds — and an untold number of practice visits — good fortune smiled on him there without exception. Or stain of a bogey.
So when Fujikawa strode confidently to the ninth tee yesterday right at the projected one-over-par cut line to close the front nine, it was hard for he or his mushrooming galley to imagine a better, more providential setting for a stretch run on cut-down day.
Unfortunately, on a patch of bermuda grass where everything had gone right for him in the past, his hips opened up and this time his tee shot went ... wide right into the canal on the way to a double bogey that sent him careening to a 5-over-par 75 and costing him a place in the tournament field for the weekend.
"All I had to do was hit a good tee shot and make a birdie," Fujikawa said. "But I hit a bad tee shot and paid the price."
A hefty one indeed with the worst of his Sony rounds for a two-day 147, six stokes below the cutline.
It was hard to tell what had perplexed Fujikawa more: the wobbly shot that sent the crowd into a collective groan or that it had come smack dab in the middle of his comfort zone on the heretofore bogey-proof (for him) ninth hole. "I've hit 'em right and hit 'em left (there), but I don't think I've ever hit one in the canal before," Fujikawa said. "I guess there is a first time for everything."
And this was a particularly bad one coming as it did in his opening tournament which he could have used to showcase his wares in a bid for sponsor exemptions.
Instead the afternoon steadily went downhill like a ball that found a resting place at the bottom of the murky canal.
After a penalty drop, he whacked a shot off a tree — the first of two for the day.
Fujikawa saved par twice to start the back nine but then skidded to five more bogeys, including a double at 14. And, rare for him, began to hang his head, reaching nine over par at one point.
It took his caddie, Shakil Ahmed, exhorting the dwindling following — "I don't hear any cheering!" — before they rallied and Fujikawa closed with back-to-back birdies.
It would be the kind of a finish he might have dreamed if only it had not come on a day he scarcely could have imagined.