Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Other Teenager From Hawaii

Tadd Fujikawa is loving every minute of his U.S. Open experience.

A rising high school sophomore in Hawaii, the 15-year old Fujikawa is just loving life, since he wasn't expected to have one.

Fujikawa was born 3 1/2 months prematurely and weighed just 31 ounces. His skin was opaque and his lungs hadn't developed.

"The doctors didn't even consider him an infant," his mother, Lori Fujikawa, said. "They said, 'You have a fetus.'"

Fujikawa obviously survived and went on to become a four-time national judo champion. After winning his fourth as a 12-year old, Fujikawa decided to turn his attention to something else -- golf.

He made a 65-foot birdie putt in sudden-death to advance in the local qualifying event for the Open then he won the only available spot in the sectional qualifier in Hawaii where a certain other local teenager -- Michelle Wie -- would have played had she not been on the East Coast to play the LPGA Championship.

So Fujikawa is at Winged Foot and she isn't.

Asked who is the best high school golfer in Hawaii, Fujikawa answered, "Boys or girls?"

He doesn't know Wie, other than having said hello to her. While she gets her attention, Fujikawa is getting his this week.

He's small -- just 5-1 and weighing 135 pounds -- but he averages 280 yards off the tee and has a goal of making the cut this weekend.

"Who wouldn't be excited?" Fujikawa said. "It's the Open. It doesn't matter what age you are."