By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
HONOLULU -- As Tadd Fujikawa walked down the first fairway in Saturday's third round, a young girl in a pink shirt, sitting atop her father's shoulders, yelled out, "Go, Tadd!" Fujikawa, despite having had to hit a provisional shot off the No. 1 tee after his first one sailed to the right, replied with a big smile and an enthusiastic wave.
The 21-year-old Fujikawa is clearly enjoying the moment in front of his hometown fans at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He started his round at 5 under, tied for 17th and hoping to produce the same kind of magic he did in 2009 when he shot a third-round 62 at Waialae.
"Hopefully I can shoot another 62," Fujikawa said on Friday after shooting a 4-under 66 to move him up the leaderboard. "That would be great. But I just want to go out there and enjoy myself ... don't stress myself out over anything, just have fun, go play my game and see what happens."
This is Fujikawa's fifth start in his hometown event. As a 16-year-old amateur in 2007, he made the cut – the youngest player in 50 years to make a cut at a PGA TOUR event -- and finished tied for 20th . In 2009, he finished tied for 32nd. He's missed the cut on two other occasions.
Now he's older, wiser and obviously playing for money now. A great weekend could jumpstart his career.
He certainly plans to feed off the energy from the large gallery that will follow him.
"Obviously I always enjoy playing here,” he said, “and I’m very blessed and thankful to everyone that supported me and helped me get into this event."
Local favorites Tadd Fujikawa and Parker McLachlin will be playing in the Sony Open in Hawaii after receiving two of the tournament's sponsor's exemptions.
Fujikawa, the Honolulu native, who weighed just 31 ounces at birth and was given a 50-50 chance of survival, finished one shot out of a playoff for the final Monday qualifying spot in the Sony Open after shooting a 69. He received the sponsor's exemption afterwards, joining Parker McLachlin in the field.
Fujikawa, who tees off No. 1 at 1:20 p.m. (6:20 p.m. ET) with PGA TOUR rookies Tommy Biershenk and Richard Lee, will be playing in the Sony Open for the fifth time. He tied for 20th in his 2007 debut at the age of 17 – shooting consecutive rounds of 66 on Friday and Saturday -- and shared 32nd two years later.
McLachlin, who won the 2008 Reno-Tahoe Open, went to the Punahou School in Honolulu, which also happens to be the alma mater of President Barack Obama and LPGA star Michelle Wie. His father, Chris, was President Obama's high school basketball coach.
McLachlin will tee off No. 10 at 1 p.m. (6 p.m. ET) with Steve Wheatcroft and Miguel Tabuena.
Davis Love’s 17-year-old son, Dru, is among the players teeing it up today at Brunswick Country Club in the Monday qualifier for the McGladrey Classic.
Dru Love was one of 55 players to advance from last week’s pre-qualifier. Also in that group were Richard Todd Jr., the son of former Alabama and New York Jets quarterback Richard Todd, and Hawaii’s Tadd Fujikawa.
Davis Love III, a 20-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is the unofficial host of the McGladrey Classic. Only four players will earn spots in the Fall Series event when today’s qualifier is over.