June 14, 2006

Hawaiian teen shrugs off Tiger tee mix up

By Larry Fine

MAMARONECK, New York (Reuters) - Hawaiian teenager Tadd
Fujikawa thought he was going to play with Tiger Woods on
Wednesday, but the 15-year-old happily hooked up instead with
Jyoti Randhawa of India for practice at Winged Foot Golf Club.

Fujikawa, the second youngest player ever to compete in the
U.S. Open, had written his name next to Woods on the sign-up
sheet on Tuesday but when he arrived for the early morning tee
time saw there was a mix up.

"I think what happened was he had his own group," Fujikawa
told Reuters after practice. "So he went off the 10th tee."

Fujikawa, who at 5-feet-1 might be mistaken for the son of
one of the professionals in the 156-player field, joined
another group of players, including Asian and Japanese Tour
veteran Randhawa, 34, to tour the testing Winged Foot course.

Moanalua High School student Fujikawa, who captured the
only qualifying spot in the 10-man Hawaii sectional qualifier
at Poipu Bay Resort on Kauai, did not sound disappointed.

"It's been great," the solidly built Hawaiian said about
his U.S. Open adventure so far. "A lot of people are supporting
me. I really feel special."

Asked what has been the biggest surprise of his journey,
Fujikawa revealed his focus remained on golf. "The rough
surprises me," he said. "I didn't think the rough could be this
bad, but it is the U.S. Open."

Fujikawa, a four-time national judo champion, had nothing
but good things to say about another Hawaiian teen-aged golf
sensation -- 16-year-old Michelle Wie, who fell short last week
in a bid to become the first woman to qualify for the Open.

"I've met her and said 'hi', but I've never been in the
same playing group," he said. "She's doing great. I think she's
representing Hawaii really well and the game of golf really
well. She's doing what she needs to do and wants to do. I wish
her the best."