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Tadd Different: Fujikawa is Hawaii's other golf prodigy

Tadd Fujikawa
Todd Bigelow/Aurora
There are endorsement deals on the horizon for Tadd, but they're for small change when compared with Wie's.

The other day Tadd Fujikawa and his father, Derrick, went fishing in the beautiful waters off Sand Island in Honolulu, where Derrick has been a regular since he was a boy fishing with his dad. The outing had to be crammed into the narrow window between Tadd's morning at Moanalua High and his afternoon as a pro golfer, chock-full as it was of media interviews, business meetings and a long practice session at Honolulu Country Club under the watchful gaze of his mother, Lori. As Derrick piloted the 19-foot skiff through some choppy water, both Fujikawas went to great lengths to explain why no fish would be caught: The tide was too high, fish don't bite in the afternoon, etc. According to Derrick, there was only one glimmer: "Taddy boy is the luckiest guy in the world, so you never know."

Tadd, 16, has been so consumed by golf since he turned pro this summer that he and his father hadn't been fishing together in a while. As Tadd loosened up with a few idle casts, Derrick was unimpressed with his son's deteriorated form. "You throw like a girl, bruddah."

One so-so cast was followed by one word of commentary: "Shank."

Tadd simply rolled his eyes. "He's always like this, unfortunately," he said.

Derrick and Tadd's conversation was a mishmash of English, Japanese and Hawaiian, a reflection of the family's polyglot roots. Derrick finally stopped the boat in his secret spot, above a cave in the reef, where he claimed the fish like to loiter. Tadd unfurled a majestic cast, and no sooner had the lure hit the water than his rod began twitching violently. Moments later he had reeled in a three-pound papio, its body a striking, translucent blue.

Derrick seemed more excited about having his prediction confirmed than the fish itself: "I told you, he's the luckiest guy in the world!"

Tadd lazily made another half-dozen casts. When a papio grows up — say, above 10 pounds — the locals call it a ulua. It has razor-sharp rails on its fins, which it uses to stun its prey. Off in the distance the water exploded around Tadd's lure. A ulua had tried to smack it with its fin before biting down on the hook.

"Big one!" Derrick yelled.

Tadd, his rod bent nearly in half, sweat already beginning to pour off his forehead, still managed some perfect teenaged snarkiness: "Hello, I know that. I'm the one holding the rod!"

Tadd won his first junior judo national championship at age eight. He has the balance and grace of a ballet dancer, combined with the powerful lower body of a fullback. He danced around the boat, fighting the fish and fending off the excited commentary of his dad. After a heroic battle that lasted at least 10 minutes, he reeled in a 17-pound ulua that was so big it wouldn't fit in the ice chest. Derrick took a knife and hacked the ulua's gills so it would bleed out, ensuring that the next day's homemade sashimi would have white meat, not pink. Tadd didn't hide his disgust: "Ewww, that's gross."

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