HONOLULU (AP) — The eagle putt tracked toward the hole, and Tadd Fujikawa braced for a celebration, just like his theatrical finish two years ago at the Sony Open.
“I thought it was in,” he said. “I really did.”
That was the only disappointment under darkening skies Friday afternoon at Waialae.
Fujikawa tapped in for birdie and a 69, and the 18-year-old senior in high school made the cut with one shot to spare, securing his first PGA Tour paycheck since turning pro the summer after his sophomore year.
Yes, he was so happy.
But not satisfied.
The Golf Channel had finished its telecast of the second round, then cut back to Waialae to show Fujikawa playing his final two holes, just as it used to do when Michelle Wie was trying to make it to the weekend while still in high school.
By now, Fujikawa expects more.
This was his seventh PGA Tour start since turning pro, and after getting into the Sony Open through two days of qualifying, Fujikawa had a stronger since of belonging. Even though he is 5-foot-1 and has to return to his final semester of high school Monday, he is starting to feel as though he belongs.
“Honestly, it kind of feels like I’m supposed to do it,” he said. “It is a good feeling, of course, but I’m just really happy that all of my hard work and all of the things that I’ve done with all of my coaches … is just slowly paying off. Two years ago, my expectation was to make the cut. But this time, I’m out there to win. I know I can do it.”
It’s a tall order. Fujikawa was at even-par 140, eight shots behind co-leaders Tom Pernice Jr. and Nathan Green.
This was the third straight year Fujikawa was playing the Sony Open. Fujikawa played the first year by winning an amateur qualifier, than shot 66 in the second round – including an eagle on the final hole that produced a roar louder than a wave crashing on the North Shore – and wound up in a tie for 20th.
He received a sponsor’s exemption last year and missed the cut, then faced two days of qualifying to return. Fujikawa noticed a change in the level of respect from PGA Tour players. This time, he truly earned it.
“That’s kind of the vibe that I’ve gotten from the players,” he said. “It’s a good vibe. I really like it.”
His biggest paycheck since turning pro in the summer of 2007 was $13,500 for his lone victory in the Mid-Pacific Open. Last place at the Sony Open pays $9,936, although Fujikawa is looking for something bigger.