Golfer Tadd Fujikawa says depression almost forced him to quit the game he loves

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

EAST HONOLULU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tadd Fujikawa was just 15 years old when he burst onto the golf scene by qualifying for the U.S. Open.

A year later, he played alongside professionals in the Sony Open.

And at 17, he turned pro himself.

But Fujikawa, now 26, admits early success gave way to struggles both professionally and privately.

"I thought of quitting golf, which has always been my passion and, I feel, my calling," he said.

Fujikawa said in 2011 he began a struggle with depression and anxiety.

"I never got to the point of suicidal thoughts but I'm sure if it kept going on it would have gotten to that point," he said.

For a time, he withdrew from people and avoided the golf course entirely.

"You feel alone like no one understands you. To me that's where I was. It was difficult," he said.

Fujikawa credits his faith in God, support from family and friends, and advice from sports psychologists for helping him turn a corner in his life and better cope with his depression.

"For me, it's learning how to overcome it, learning how to deal with it and move on and move forward and not let that get in the way of what I'm doing and what my goals and dreams are," he said.

He recently wrote about his struggle on social media. Golf Digest did a story about it. Now Fujikawa is getting letters of support and letters from people seeking advice. He hopes his story inspires others to talk about their own struggles with depression.

"You don't have to be afraid of showing what you're going through, what you're dealing with," he said.

As for his game, last month he won the Hawaii State Open. It was his first tournament title in seven years.

"I would have been happy regardless, just putting myself there again and being in that position," he said. "Coming out with the win obviously made it a lot more special."

Fujikawa turns 27 on Monday. He believes the best golf and life have to offer are still ahead of him.

"I found what works for me, and that is going to help me keep moving forward in the right direction," he said.

Next week, Fujikawa will try to qualify to play in this year's Sony Open.

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