Name a Hawaiian golfer who’s young, talented, and has already won over legions of adoring fans before turning pro. What’s that, you can name two? Well how about one who hasn’t been mired in recent controversy? You’re exactly right, it’s Tadd Fujikawa!
The sixteen year old made big news today by announcing he will turn professional as of today. Earlier this year Fujikawa was the hottest ticket in golf, not just making the cut at the Sony Open, but finishing 20th among the best golfers on the PGA Tour. From the second he waved goodbye to the crowds on the 72nd hole at Waialae Country Club, the clock was ticking on his amateur career. It’s quite clear he has the game to compete with the best players in the world and now he will have the chance to test his skills day in and day out. Will this be the right decision for Tadd? Only time will tell, but from what the public has seen so far and the statements he made today, this will likely be the start of a long and storied professional career.
The road Fujikawa has chosen is going to be an uphill struggle. For each Tiger Woods, there are ten times as many Ty Tryon’s, Ricky Barnes’s, Notah Begay’s, and Trip Kuehne’s – players destined for fame and success who came up woefully short. Not to mention the fact that another famous Hawaiian just stepped onto the same busy road, only to get run over by a flurry of bad press. The public’s opinion of Michelle Wie has taken some major hits in recent times, and people have questioned her honesty, commitment, desire, and management. Is Fujikawa making the right decision, or will he end up as another "should have been" who never was?
From the beginning Fujikawa has had to work hard. His premature birth and diminutive status have not stopped him from becoming one of the best athletes in the world. He was the youngest golfer to ever qualify for the U.S. Open in 2005, and the second youngest to make the cut in a PGA Tour event at the Sony in 2006. He’s had the spotlight before and has faced its glare with dignity and humility. Much more importantly, it fully appears this decision is his and is something he truly wants: "We feel it’s the right time to do it, "I’ve always wanted to be a professional and be the best in the world. That is every golfer’s dream… My parents aren’t sure this is the right decision, but I’ve told them I really want to do this. I’d give everything up for it. I’m going to do the best I can. … Right now, they just have to trust me," said Fujikawa.
It also seems that turning professional will be a vital part of allowing Fujikawa to develop his talents and gain more experience among other professional golfers. Tadd’s mother Lori Fujikawa said, "I feel it would be hard for us to provide Tadd the instruction he needs to play at this level. The timing is where he has the opportunity to pursue and fulfill his dreams. He has always been a fighter." Already, there appears to be no shortage of sponsors lined up ready to capitalize on Fujikawa’s established star power. Currently, the family and their attorney / agent Kevin Bell are in talks with many potential sponsors.
From here, Fujikawa will be competing in the Reno-Tahoe Open at the beginning of August. However, no matter how well he finishes, or how much money he makes in the remainder of the season, he will not be able to earn full membership on the PGA Tour until he turns 18 in January 2009 because of the Tour’s age requirement. However, he will be able to play in 12 events a year on the PGA Tour as well as make appearances on other tours such as the European and Asian PGA Tours. Whatever he chooses and how he performs, Tadd Fujikawa has already made quite a name for himself and this next step in his golfing career will be very fun to watch.
Top pros call out NCAA over canceled women’s regional debacle
12 of the 18 schools competing at the NCAA Women’s Regional in Baton Rouge, La., were left angry and heartbroken this week after the NCAA pulled the plug on the event to put an end to their dreams of competing at the NCAA Women’s Championship.
The event was due to be a 54-hole contest played over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but was initially delayed after a deluge of rain hit the course over the weekend.
Officials had hoped to play 18 holes on Wednesday to decide who would qualify but instead adjudged the course unplayable and canceled the event in its entirety.
Without a single ball being hit, this decision meant that the top six seeds in the regional advance to nationals and the top three individuals of the six that were competing.
Those teams are LSU, Mississippi, Baylor, Oregon, Maryland and Alabama, with the following players Karen Fredgaard, Houston; Nataliya Guseva, Miami (Fla.); and Hanna Alberto, Sam Houston.
Eliminating seeds 7-18: Oregon State, Houston, Miami (Fla.), North Texas, Purdue, Mississippi State, Tulsa, Sam Houston State, Kennesaw State, East Tennessee State, Jacksonville State and Quinnipiac.
In a statement outside the clubhouse of The University Club, Brad Hurlbut, the Director of Athletics at Fairleigh Dickinson, announced the news saying:
“Look, this is one of the most gut-wrenching decisions and announcements that I’ve ever been a part of. Even though the course is playable, it’s not playable at a championship level.”
The statement was understandably received with shock and anger by the players of the teams who felt cheated out of the opportunity to win a place at the NCAA Women’s Championship, with cries of “You should be ashamed of yourselves” and “Thank you for ending our careers!” directed at Hurlbut.
So here it is, the LSU regionals at Baton Rouge has been cancelled due to the course being “PLAYABLE BUT NOT AT A CHAMPIONSHIP LEVEL”!!!!! Disgraceful how this whole week has been handled!!!! Every player worked so hard for this week and this is how we are treated!!! SHAMEFUL!!! pic.twitter.com/Z8FGrfYKLN
— Sara Byrne (@sarabyrne01) May 12, 2021
The decision to cancel the event has also caused indignation amongst some of the most prominent names in professional golf. Here’s a look at the reaction of some of those on social media:
The NCAA Women’s Championship takes place in two weeks as the fallout from this week’s controversial decision continues.
Interesting photos from the AT&T Byron Nelson
GolfWRX was on site at a very wet TPC Craig for practice rounds ahead of the AT&T Byron Nelson, and we weren’t going to let the rain wash away the opportunity for interesting photos.
We have six general galleries for your viewing pleasure
- 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson – Tuesday #1
- 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson – Tuesday #2
- 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson – Tuesday #3
- 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson – Tuesday #4
- 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson – Wednesday #1
- 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson – Wednesday #2
…and a number of special of galleries as well.
- Cameron putters (including James Hahn’s T-12) – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Russell Knox testing an Axis 1 putter – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Cole Hammer – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Fitzpatrick’s and Kuchar’s Bettinardi putters – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Odyssey putters – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Rickie back to his old Cameron – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Tim Wilkinson testing lefthand Axis 1 – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Jhonny Vegas’ custom Cameron with LA Golf shaft – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Daniel Berger “testing” Titleist driver – 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
We got a look at University of Texas Junior Cole Hammer’s sticks as he prepares to put a peg in the ground at the Byron Nelson on a sponsor’s exemption.
Equipment free agent Daniel Berger was seen testing a Titleist TS3 driver with a Fujikura Ventus Black shaft.
D.J. Trahan once again solidifies his status as the Tour’s biggest Deadhead.
Kevin Chappell’s Wilson Staff irons have taken on a lovely patina.
Tidy stamping on Jhonattan Vegas custom Cameron.
Also on the Cameron front: James Hahn’s T12 Prototype.
More putter photos: Matt Kuchar had two center-shafted Bettinardi blades built for testing. (More photos here)
Rickie Fowler has gone back to his Newport 2 with “Cameron” stamped in the cavity rather than “Rickie,” which is in his other wand. He’s also been back in a steel shaft in the putter for a while.
Russell Knox was spotted testing an Axis1 putter.
New to us, this Odyssey “Sir Makes-a-Lot” putter cover is clever.
Odyssey Tri-Hot insert sighting!
Michael Greller displays Jordan Spieth’s new 2021 Pro V1x balls. Did he stop in the pro shop to pick up a sleeve?
AT&T Byron Nelson Tour Truck Report: Details on Spieth’s ball change, Kuch’s new putters, more
There’s not a ton of tinkering going on at presently soggy TPC Craig Ranch where Monday was wet and Tuesday was a washout. With it being the week before a major championship and the heart of the season, most players are committed to dancing with the one that brought them and are only soliciting the tour trucks for spec checks and regripping.
Perhaps most interestingly this week, Jordan Spieth has switched from a previous generation of the Titleist Pro V1x into the current iteration of the golf ball (Exhibit A: The photos of Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller holding up the wares below).
Check out all our photos from the Byron Nelson!
Matt Kuchar continues his flatstick experimentation as he looks to find his form on the green. Bettinardi built him a couple of long-neck center-shafted blades to tinker with. Face-on view of one of the models below, and more photos here.
More of what’s up with major OEM staffers, below.
Sean O’Hair is testing a TSi2 (10 degree) driver and TSi2 (15 degree) fairway.
Per Titleist, Spieth offered this about his switch into the new Pro V1x
“I’m trying to optimize launch conditions through the bag. For me, the 2021 Pro V1x, I get more spin around the greens. It’s softer, spinnier around the greens with my short game shots. And then when I went up the bag, I started to get a little bit higher launch, but it didn’t add spin in the long clubs. It just added ball speed and launch. So it’s a little higher window, but it just looks like it’s screaming through the air. And then from the 7-iron on down, I didn’t see much difference in the full shots, just like I said more action around the greens.”
“I’m trying to just hit optimal windows and if I can gain – really, in my long clubs – just a little bit better peak height with a little bit faster ball speed, it actually helps fill my gaps a little bit easier. And then it’s just coming down – it has the potential to come down a little bit softer, which is obviously important. But I’m not seeing a massive difference through kind of that mid iron into short iron. And I still can hit each shot that I want to with the scoring clubs. So being able to tee off and all you do is change the ball and it’s actually in a similar window that’s going 3-4 yards further, that’s nice. And then when I get to the scoring range clubs, I feel like if anything, I just have the ability to hit an even softer shot if I want to. But the rest of them were all still there.”
View this post on Instagram
And while Titleist is mum on any further details, there is this…
There’s only one chance to make a first impression, and we’d say it went well.
@JordanSpieth and @WillZalatoris got a sneak peek at some new irons earlier this week and gave them a test spin. Their feedback… ?? pic.twitter.com/03npRpmsgy
— Titleist (@Titleist) May 12, 2021
Sam Burns had set of raw Apex MB irons built for testing.
Wesley Bryant added a prototype full-face MD5 wedge to his arsenal.
Others, free agents
Rickie Fowler returned to the Scotty Cameron with “Cameron” rather than “Rickie” at the Wells Fargo Championship, but this is the first good look at the flatstick we’ve gotten since the switch.
Daniel Berger was spotted testing a Titleist TS3 with a Ventus Black shaft.
Russell Knox was spotted testing an Axis1 putter.
In a pretty wild story we’re looking for more information on, notorious gearhead Chris Baker is rumored to be putting a set of irons belonging to Cobra rep James Posey in play. Incidentally, Baker is also testing a Kali White shaft.
Free agent Dominic Bozzelli is testing a Titleist TSi3 driver (9 degrees).
James Hahn is reportedly testing a number of shafts: prototype Aldila in a fairway wood, and Mitsubishi MMT in a hybrid and long iron.
PXG staffer Danny Lee switched out of Project X 6.5 and into KBS Tour V 125 shafts (5-PW) and KBS TGI 110 in 3 and 4-iron.
Tom Lewis has moved back into KBS S Taper 125 in his full set. He was playing Nippon 125’s in his irons and a Fujikura Ventus Black 115 HB in his Srixon ZX5 3-iron.
Check out all our photos from the Byron Nelson!
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