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Hawaii phenom Fujikawa to turn pro

Lori Fujikawa, who wiped away tears as she stood behind a row of television cameras, said that her son turning pro will make it easier for him to concentrate on golf.

"It's hard to tell your child, 'No, you can't do it,''' she said.

Lori Fujikawa, an office clerk at an auto body shop, said paying for her son's travels to the mainland, golf lessons and other expenses has been extremely difficult. Family members often had to help out.

"We always went the cheapest route and it was still expensive,'' she said.

Lori Fujikawa doesn't plan to quit her job.

"Our life will not change. We'll still work,'' she said.

While other players stayed at the closest resorts, the Fujikawas opted for motels in the area.

Derrick Fujikawa remembers when his only child was just 5 and would take swings in their backyard. By age 11, the younger Fujikawa was beating his dad on the golf course.

"But I still could beat him in judo,'' his father said.

Derrick Fujikawa said his son, who was often the smallest kid around, has always been a "fierce competitor.''

Fujikawa was a fighter from the time he was born - 3 1/2 months early, so small that he weighed only 1 pound, 15 ounces and could fit into his grandfather's palm. Fujikawa, who had only a 50 percent chance to live, made it through a series of operations the first year, one to reconnect his intestines.

"I try not to think about those days,'' Derrick Fujikawa said. "He went through a lot. I don't know how he does it, but everything he does, he tries his best at.''

Fujikawa received a sponsor's exemption to the Reno-Tahoe Open, which starts Aug. 2.

Kevin Bell, who will serve as his attorney-agent, said Fujikawa will seek other sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour or try to qualify on the PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour and in Japan until he finishes high school.

Bell said Fujikawa understands how high the level of play is on tour.

"He doesn't believe he's going to take the world by storm,'' Bell said. "He needs to develop his game and take it to that next level. This was a way for him to do that.''

Fujikawa said he feels confident about his game, and knows having the 'A' removed means he'll be playing for a lot more than just fun.

"As of right now, there's no going back,'' he said.

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