<
>

Donald, Goydos tied for Sony lead; Wie misses cut

1/13/2007 - Golf

HONOLULU -- Tadd Fujikawa tried to block out the cameras,
the faces packed behind the ropes and the loudest ovation he had
ever heard as he closed in on history over the final hour Friday
afternoon at the Sony Open.

When his 15-foot putt fell for eagle, he joined the delirium.

He dropped his putter and raised both arms in the air, then
punched the air with an uppercut that made Tiger Woods look like a
featherweight. Four days after he celebrated his 16th birthday,
Fujikawa shot a 4-under 66 to become the youngest player in 50
years to make the cut on the PGA Tour.

"That was the loudest roar I've ever heard in my life," he
said.

It was the moment Hawaii has been waiting for -- a teenager
playing Waialae on the weekend.

Only it wasn't Michelle Wie.

The cheer for Fujikawa's eagle putt could be heard all the way
to the clubhouse, where the 17-year-old Wie was wrapping up her
press conference after a 76 to miss the cut for fourth straight
time in the Sony Open, this time by 14 shots.

"I tried my best. It's all I can do," said Wie, who has not
made the cut in seven PGA Tour starts. "I have a lot of game, it's
just not showing right now. When I get it to come out, I'm going to
be fine."

Paul Goydos (63) and Luke Donald (66) shared the lead at
11-under 129, but attention shifted to the 5-foot-1 kid who first
got everyone's attention when he qualified for the U.S. Open at
Winged Foot.

"I can't breathe right now," Fujikawa said. "I'm sooo
excited."

He was tied for 25th at 3-under 137, one shot ahead of Kapalua
winner Vijay Singh.

The youngest player to qualify for the weekend on the PGA Tour
was Bob Panasik at the 1957 Canadian Open when he was 15 years,
eight months. Ty Tryon was 16 years, nine months when he made the
cut in the 2001 Honda Classic.

"Making the cut is an awesome thing for me right now,"
Fujikawa said. "Having all these people watching and supporting me
... I wish everybody in the world could feel what I'm feeling
now."

That's what Wie has wanted since she was 14, but it will have to
wait. Her driving was so erratic that when she hit the fairway on
her 10th hole, she covered her mouth and said, "Oh, my God!" in
mock surprise.

Her 14-over 154 total was her highest at the Sony Open; in three
previous tries, she didn't miss the cut by more than seven shot.

The gallery fled to the far east side of Waialae, the back nine,
after seeing that Fujikawa was 3 under for his round and two shots
inside the cut line. He missed a 3-foot par putt on the 14th, then
missed the green well to the right on the 15th for another bogey,
and followed that by driving into a bunker on the 16th.

But he hit out to 15 feet and holed the birdie putt and punched
the air in sheer delight, and he was on his way.

The kid now gets two more days to see how far he can go.

"I'm probably not going to win this tournament," he said.

Donald was steady as ever, opening with seven straight pars and
finishing with a flourish. He birdied three of the final four holes
to share the lead going into the weekend.

Goydos wouldn't even be in Honolulu without the last full week
of the 2006 season. He was destined for Q-school until putting
together his best four rounds of the year at the Chrysler
Championship to tie for second, earning enough money to finish 97th
on the money list.

The 10-week vacation with his two daughters didn't slow his
momentum.

"This is probably one of the top five rounds I've played on
tour," he said of his bogey-free 63 in steady 20 mph wind.

Chad Campbell, tied for the lead going into the final round at
the Sony Open last year until he went 16 holes without a birdie and
finished five shots behind David Toms, played in the morning and
turned in a 65 to finish two shots out of the lead at 9-under 131.

Charles Howell III rode a birdie-eagle finish to a 63 and was at
132, followed by Will MacKenzie (68), Jim Furyk (68) and Robert
Allenby (66).

Wie stands a foot taller than Fujikawa, but Hawaii has a new
giant to celebrate this weekend.

"I've never played with him or talked with him," Wie said.
"It's great being how young he is. I'm rooting for him."

Fujikawa didn't pick up a club until he was 8 and didn't get
serious until he was 12, when he took his first lesson from a PGA
instructor. He has been on his own the past few months, working
almost exclusively on his putting. Even after a morning round
Thursday, he was at Waialae until twilight on the putting green.

"If I didn't work so much on my putting, I don't think I would
have made that [eagle] putt," he said. "I don't think I would
have made the cut."

He was assured of making the cut when he found the fairway on
the 551-yard closing hole, and when he hit 6-iron from 207 yards to
15 feet, just left of the hole. Boo Weekley and Steve Wheatcroft
were playing with him, and they graciously waited behind so
Fujikawa could walk alone to the 18th green and soak in the
applause.

That gesture normally is reserved for champions, and the kid
sure felt like one Friday.

Asked what he would do when he got home, he closed his eyes and
said wearily, "Eat. Sleep."

Then he smiled.

"And watch the Golf Channel."

Divots
Former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman and Davis Love III,
who missed the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1991, played
together for two days. Both made birdie on the last hole to make
the cut on the number. ... Sports Business Daily reported Friday
that the Golf Channel's four-round coverage of the Mercedes-Benz
Championship averaged 370,728 households, down 44 percent from last
year when the PGA Tour's season-opening event was on ESPN. ...
Stanford Financial, which has taken over as title sponsor of the
PGA Tour stop in Memphis, has signed Vijay Singh and David Toms to
endorsement deals. ... Stephen Ames was disqualified for signing an
incorrect scorecard, marking 4 when he took 5 on the 18th. It
didn't matter, as he finished at 3-over 143.