Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fujikawa, 18, may hone game on Tarheel Tour

Tadd Fujikawa, an 18-year-old phenom in the golf world, might use Charlotte's Tarheel Tour to get used to the grind of professional golf and hone his game.

Could Tadd Fujikawa's future be on the Tarheel Tour?

It sounds that way.

During his latest star turn at the Sony Hawaiian Open last week, the 18-year-old sensation said he is considering joining the Charlotte-based mini-tour this summer to get comfortable playing professional golf on a weekly basis.

Fujikawa said his teacher, Todd Anderson at Sea Island, suggested he find a place to play regularly so he can get acclimated to the grind of professional golf. The Tarheel Tour, Fujikawa said, is his possible destination after he graduates high school in May.

"Right now, because I've had exemptions and stuff, I played two tournaments and have a month break, play two tournaments, have a month break, play one tournament, two weeks break, and another tournament. It's hard to get any momentum going," Fujikawa told reporters in Hawaii.

"I feel like I play well one week, and then right when I start getting my game, I feel some confidence coming along and then I'm on a break. So it just kills it.

"It's tough to play like that. (Anderson) wants me to play every week and get into contention as much as I can. And whether it's a mini-or a PGA TOUR event, he said it doesn't matter. He said he just wants me to play and get some experience and go out there and win."

Though he's flashed onto the national scene twice in the Sony and once when he qualified for the U.S. Open, Fujikawa's two-year professional career has been underwhelming. He won the Mid-Pacific Open in Hawaii last year but, otherwise, he hasn't distinguished himself.

There are questions about whether at 5-feet, 1-inch tall he has the physical ability to play the PGA Tour, though his third-round 62 in the Sony answered many questions.

Fujikawa has star power but it takes more than that. It takes following up a 62 with something better than the 73 he closed with on Sunday that left him tied for 32nd at Waialae. If he's really good enough, he'll learn from last weekend and build on it.

He'll learn if he has the game and the temperament to play golf for a living week after week. And he may find out here on the Tarheel Tour.