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January 14, 2009

Tadd Fujikawa


DOUG MILNE: Tadd, thank you for joining us for a few minutes at the Sony Open in Hawaii. I was going to ask you to assess your game, you're obviously playing well and you played your way into the field this week so, why don't we just start with some general comments about the state of your game.
TADD FUJIKAWA: I've been really working hard. I think within the past six months, this is the hardest I've ever worked. I'm feeling really good about my game. I think I have the game to do it. I just need to go out there and do the best that I can and have fun and be myself. Sometimes I try too hard and doesn't work out well that way, so I think I just need to go out there and be myself and have fun.
DOUG MILNE: Has that been the difference, when you say you're working harder than you've ever worked, you're trying not to be too hard on yourself?
TADD FUJIKAWA: Yeah, kind of. I worked hard and I know I can do it. I feel ready and I go out there and I try so hard that it just kind of backfires on me. I try so hard that it ends up not doing me any good.
So I went out there on Monday and just told myself, I'm going to play my game and what happens, what happens. If I qualify, great, then it's okay to keep on working hard.
Luckily I'm qualified and I'm really happy to be here.

Q. What parts of your game in particular are you working on? Is there any one part?
TADD FUJIKAWA: Everything. To become one of the best players in the world, you can't just have one good part of your game.
I think for me personally, I needed to change a lot of things in my golf swing and putting and also chipping and technique and stuff.
So it is a hard thing to do. You're struggling a little bit with your game, but I think knowing that I'm making changes and I'm trying to improve, I think that's pretty satisfying to me. You know, it does get frustrating, I'll admit it, but I'm just going to try to keep on going and working hard and keep on trying to improve.

Q. What is the last tournament you played?
TADD FUJIKAWA: That's a good question. I think it was in Switzerland.

Q. The European Masters?
TADD FUJIKAWA: Yeah, I believe so.

Q. You're a senior in high school?

Q. Did you consider Q-School this year?
TADD FUJIKAWA: I did. I was actually going to play in Japan, try to qualify for the Japan Tour. But I wanted to finish up school first, and that's kind of the way I've been going. I want to finish all my school, and then just focus only on golf.

Q. So what do you think you'll do, assuming you don't flunk out and get your degree, what do you think you'll do starting in June?
TADD FUJIKAWA: I think -- well, after I finish school in probably May, I'm going to be -- hopefully I'll be playing some in the States, some in Japan and maybe some in Europe. Then my coach wants me to play possibly on a mini tour. He wants me to go out there and play every week.
Right now, because I've had exemptions and stuff, I played two tournaments and have a month break, play two tournaments, have a month break, play one tournament, two weeks break, and another tournament. It's hard to get any momentum going. I feel like I play well one week, and then right when I start getting my game, I feel some confidence coming along and then I'm on a break. So it just kills it.
It's tough to play like that. He wants me to play every week and get into contention as much as I can. And whether it's a mini-or a PGA TOUR event, he said it doesn't matter. He said he just wants me to play and get some experience and go out there and win.

Q. And your coach is?
TADD FUJIKAWA: Todd Anderson.

Q. Any idea which mini-tour or just a mini-tour?
TADD FUJIKAWA: I'm not sure yet. Possibly the Tar Heel Tour.

Q. I know the director, by the way.
TADD FUJIKAWA: Really? Cool.

Q. What are your expectations for this week?
TADD FUJIKAWA: I'm going to go out there and win. That's always my goal. I think any tournament I enter, whether it's a big tournament or it's a small tournament, it doesn't matter. A tournament is a tournament. You're out there to win, and that's what I'm going to try to do.

Q. We were here when you announced you were going to turn pro in this very room, what has it been like now that you've had a couple years to kind of digest everything. As difficult as you thought it would be, is it -- you made the cut earlier, and maybe things were going your way, but how has it been for you?
TADD FUJIKAWA: It's been a little tough. I think I've had my up-and-downs and up-and-downs and downs-and-downs, but that's life and that's golf.
Like I said, I've been working really hard on my game. I had to make a lot of changes, and I had the decision whether I wanted to make the change early in my career or later in my career. I said: I'm going to do it now. I want to get everything over with and two or three years from now is when I want to be on the PGA TOUR and I want to be winning.
Although, I do want to win now, but I think it's not going to be as important as it is two or three years from now. I'm almost there. Sometimes my old swing starts creeping back in, but for the most part, I think I'm really close. I haven't seen very good results recently, but it's slowly coming around, and I feel like I'm playing well and I feel a lot of good momentum. So hopefully this week will be a good one.

Q. How have you benefitted from being a pro, as opposed to if you continue the amateur route?
TADD FUJIKAWA: You know, the things that I've learned by playing out here and talking to the players, the people that I've met, and trying to handle the media, I think is such a great experience. No one can take that away from me, and honestly, I would not be where I am with my game right now if I stayed amateur and played amateur events.
You know, being out here, 17 and 18 years old, is a good experience, and I think by me doing that, it will really, really help me down the road.

Q. So you still have no regrets about your decision at this point?
TADD FUJIKAWA: Absolutely not. It's so fun. I get to do press conferences like this and I mean, some people don't like it, but I really enjoy it. Maybe ten years from now I probably won't, but right now I'm really having fun and this is something that I enjoy doing.

Q. You said there have been high points and low points. Can you tell me one of each?
TADD FUJIKAWA: You know, I think at the Sony, obviously it was good. A month later, I played the Pearl Open and I won there.
When I turned pro, it was kind of like -- it was a big thing, of course. I guess there's a little bit of expectation. I didn't play too well for awhile, and there's a stretch in there where I won a tournament in Hawaii and made two cuts in a row in Japan. That was definitely one of the better points, trying to get some momentum, and then had a month break. It was tough.
So obviously I would have liked to do better, but like I say, the things that I've learned and the experiences that I've gained, it's going to help me down the road for sure.

Q. What would you have done if you had stayed an amateur, what would you have played?
TADD FUJIKAWA: I mean, if I stayed amateur, we probably wouldn't have too much money to travel and stuff, so I probably just would have played like a few tournaments on the Mainland and some in Hawaii. Maybe some sponsor's exemptions if I had the opportunity to.
But it would have been tough. I wouldn't have the opportunity to play as many tournaments as I did if I stayed an amateur.

Q. What golf between now and May, anything?
TADD FUJIKAWA: Probably Pearl Open. We'll see how I do here and we'll take it from there. So if I do well here, then I may get a few opportunities. So hopefully playing well, just go out there and be myself and have fun and we'll see what happens.

Q. Have there been any other players or anything that have kind of taken you under their wing?
TADD FUJIKAWA: There's a few, yeah. I think all of them have been really supportive of me, and that makes me feel good. I was out there yesterday and I swear, more than half of the pros said congratulations and good job.
I think the respect that they show to me makes me play better and makes me feel better about what I'm doing. And honestly, it's a really, really good feeling having the support of the other pros that you're actually competing against, and especially for me because I'm a young player and they are veterans out there. It's a good feeling.
There's a bunch of guys that have helped me a lot. You know, Fred Funk has helped me a lot; Esteban Toledo. I made a lot of good friends out there, and they have really helped me a lot, so I really appreciate all of their help and stuff.

Q. Did you ask for an exemption, and if so, were you disappointed when you didn't get one?
TADD FUJIKAWA: For this tournament? I did. I did ask for an exemption. I was disappointed in the beginning. I heard that I didn't get an exemption; I got a letter from them.
I was disappointed. I'm not going to lie. I really was. But then I thought to myself, you know, what if I qualified? Wouldn't that be better for myself to earn my way in? And I talked to my coaches and I talked to my family, and they are like, just do it. You have the game, go out there and play golf, and you can do it.
When I qualified on Monday, that's one of the best feelings I've ever had, from not getting an exemption and feeling sorry about to going out there and playing my way in, and hopefully I'll have a great week.

Q. Second PGA TOUR event you've qualified for, correct?

Q. That and the little public event that they played at Winged Foot, right?
TADD FUJIKAWA: Yeah, that small one. Actually the first year at Sony I qualified, but it wasn't a Monday qualifier. It was through the Governor's Cup. It wasn't against like the top pros and stuff.
DOUG MILNE: Tadd, as always, we wish you the best of luck this week and thank you for coming in.

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