At the tender age of 19, Tadd Fujikawa won his first professional tournament away from Hawaii yesterday, capturing the eGolf Tour Championship by a not-so-tender nine shots.
The smackdown started in Wednesday’s opening round at Spring Creek Golf Club in Gordonsville, Va. Fujikawa fired a 7-under-par 65. He was one better the next day to tie the course record. Friday, he bolted into a six-stroke lead with a 68.
Yesterday, in sharp contrast to his performance four months ago when he also had a final-round lead, Fujikawa was the essence of grace under pressure. With former University of Hawaii golfer Ryan Perez carrying his bag, the 5-foot-1 Moanalua High School graduate buried five birdie putts in another 68 that buried the competition.
"Everything I’ve been working on is slowly coming together," Fujikawa said in a phone interview. "I’m trying to stay patient with what I’m doing. The past few weeks I’ve been playing well, but not getting much out of my rounds — decent scores but not making as many putts as I should be and a few careless mistakes cost me strokes.
"I worked on my putting last week on my off week. I putted pretty well and hit the ball great and everything came together. It was kinda awesome."
Awesome to the tune of 25-under 263. Runner-up Matt Hendrix, a former PGA Tour player and Clemson All-American, shot 69–272. Only 12 more of eGolf’s 50 best players got into double digits under par, leading organizers of the tour — formerly known as the Tar Heel Tour — to call it one of the most dominant performances ever.
It was Fujikawa’s first win on any professional tour. His pro career started almost three years ago at the PGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open. He won the Mid-Pacific Open in 2008 and ’09 and the Maui Open last year.
This one was more than win deep. Fujikawa claimed the tour’s largest first-place prize — $25,000 — and also moved up to fifth on the money list for the season with $63,348. The tour also pays for Q-School for its top 20, worth another $4,500.
"It’s nice to get Q-School paid for. That was my main goal," said Fujikawa, in his first year on any tour. "The $25,000 is just a little bonus."