By: Leland Kim
SALT LAKE (KHNL) - Two days after his history-making performance at the Sony Open, Tadd Fujikawa is back in school. But life has definitely changed for this 16-year-old golf sensation.
It looks like a greeting for a movie star. At the center of this media frenzy is Fujikawa, the youngest player to make a PGA cut in almost 50 years. And the response has been tremendous.
"I didn't expect all these people to be supporting me and be rooting for me, and it's just unbelievable how many people are behind you every step you take," said Fujikawa.
And the people of Hawai'i aren't the only ones catching "Tadd Fever."
"The response at the Golf Channel has been just unbelievable and that's why I'm here today, because they called and said our viewers want more. We want more Tadd," said Mark Rolfing, a Golf Channel host and commentator.
Tadd is letting it all soak in.
"Never in my wildest of dreams I would imagine myself playing on the PGA tour, making the cut, especially in my home crowd," he said.
His classmates were among the many cheering him on.
"I was like, 'Oh my God. I know him. He's actually going to make the cut. All right!'" said Kristina Merkle, a sophomore at Moanalua High School. "I was so happy for him."
For his parents Lori and Derrick, the tremendous fan response has been overwhelming.
"Walking on Sunday, I was so amazed to see how many people out there that did not play golf ever and they were out there supporting. That's amazing," said Lori Fujikawa.
Tadd's gift for golf has won over many fans, but he plays because he loves it.
"It's a lot of fun for me, so whenever I'm out there, I'm in my own zone," he said.
His five-foot one-inch frame is on the small side for a golfer, but Tadd says it hasn't held him back.
"I feel that if you have the heart and determination to win and to do our best, we can do anything," he said.
The smile of a champion, the heart of a giant.