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Fujikawa returns to Sony Open as a pro

It was largely financial, but not to reap instant cash. Fujikawa's father is a self-employed contractor, and his mother works part-time in an auto repair store. They figured it was tough to travel as an amateur, so he opted to play for money while finishing his last two years.

Endorsements are coming slowly and differently from others.

Fujikawa has a deal with Aloha Petroleum, and this week added Kraft Foods Hawaii. Both are based more on appearances around Hawaii than having to wear logos on his clothing and bag and making corporate appearances. Terms were not disclosed, although Fujikawa said it should help pay for his travel expenses.

There will be two teenagers at the Sony Open for the second straight year, although Wie is not one of them. She is skipping the PGA Tour event for the first time since her first exemption in 2004, when she came within one shot of making the cut.

The other teen is 17-year-old Alex Ching, who was Fujikawa's amateur partner in the Pro-Junior shootout. Ching said it was Fujikawa's success that persuaded sponsors to keep the amateur spot given to the best player in the Governor's Cup, an annual competition among teenagers on the islands.

"I've got some nervous jitters," Ching said. "I'm just going to try my best."

That's what Fujikawa said a year ago, and that's how he feels now. And it's a sentiment shared by several other newcomers at Waialae who are about to taste life on the PGA Tour for the first time.

The first full tournament of the year brings optimism, not to mention introductions. It is not uncommon for players to look first at the name on the bag to figure out who some of these guys are. Twenty-two rookies are at Waialae this week.

The defending champion is Paul Goydos, who won last year for the first time in nearly 11 years.

Goydos believes he's a better player than he was a year ago, and has felt that way since he first joined the PGA Tour. But he compared that with corporate fiscal performances, and realizes that sometimes getting better isn't good enough.

"Everyone is getting better," Goydos said. "If you're 5 percent better, then yes, you are a better player. But against your peers, you're back a little bit. We're getting younger players, better players. If you don't improve by a reasonable amount, you're falling backward."

Younger is relative these days. Goydos has a daughter older than Fujikawa.

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