Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hawaiian Teeanger In US Open Field After All

There are few people in the world more happy to shoot an 11-over par 81 today than 15-year-old Tadd Fujikawa of Hawaii. Fujikawa shot the 81 in the opening round of the US Open. Yes, THE US Open. We made such a big deal about 16-year-old Michelle Wie of Hawaii ALMOST qualifying for the US Open that we failed to see another Hawaiian teenager slip into the field. Ironically, Fujikawa finished two strokes behind Wie in a local qualifier in Hawaii (Fujikawa had to sink a 65-foot birdie putt in a playoff to advance). Fujikawa didn't have to face Wie in the regional qualifier because Wie decided to try to qualify in New Jersey to be closer to the LPGA Championship, which she played in that same week in Maryland. As a result, Wie came up short in New Jersey, and Fujikawa captured the one qualifying spot available back in Hawaii, becoming the youngest golfer to qualify for the US Open in 65 years.

If the story ended there, it would be a great one. But Fujikawa's goes much deeper. You see, he's just happy to be alive. Doctors gave him just a 50/50 chance of survival after he was born three and-a-half months premature. He weighed just 1 pound, 15 ounces! He weighs 135 pounds now, standing a whopping 5'1", yet he can still drive his tee shots over 285 yards!

He's also a former national junior Judo Champion who just completed his freshman year of high school.

Pardon me while I go run some laps or something. I feel like such a slacker!

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