KOHALA COAST — Tadd Fujikawa earned an early Christmas gift on Sunday. It was one he already had, but in this case, he won’t mind having two and will not be returning it anytime soon.
Fujikawa nailed a birdie on hole No. 17 and finished at 12-under at the Hawaii State Open at Mauna Lani, defeating former UH-Hilo golfer Nick Mason by one stroke for his second title at the prestigious event.
Fujikawa previously won the tournament when it was held on Oahu in 2010 and made a name for himself by becoming the youngest to qualify for the US Open back in 2006 when he was just 15 years old.
But this tournament served as a new kind of breakthrough for the 26-year-old Fujikawa, who has been battling through a rough patch.
“I hadn’t won a tournament in seven years, so it was nice to get the win today,” Fujikawa said. “It means a lot. I never thought I would be back to winning tournaments again. I thought of quitting for a long time, but I stuck with it and I am glad I did. It was a lot of work. It’s a good start and hopefully things will look up from here.”
Fujikawa surged on the back nine, notching birdies on five holes. He bogeyed No. 16, but bounced back from that mistake with his eventual winning birdie on the par-3 17th hole, which ultimately ended up being the difference in the 54-hole event.
“Nick had a good start, but I was able to hang in there after the front nine,” Fujikawa said, noting the great conditions during Sunday’s round. “It really wasn’t until hole No. 13 or 14 that I got close enough to be able to tie it up toward the end there. It was a good battle.”
Mason — a three-time winner at the event, who held the lead after 18 holes and was the co-leader after Round 2 — settled for second at 11-under. Robby Ormand rounded out the top three, shooting 10-under for the tourney.
Amateur Kyle Suppa, a co-leader entering the day, struggled during the final round to finish 3-under.
The tournament drew a field of 186 players, males and females, from across the state, US mainland and other countries. The total purse of the event was $60,000, with Fujikawa taking home a nice $10,000 check for his win.
Three-time Men’s Open champion David Ishii can now add three-time Senior Open winner to his resume. He claimed the first place prize of $4,000, shooting a solid three-day total 207.
In the Women’s Open, Waiakea grad Britney Yada fired a final round score of 71. Yada cruised to the title with her three-day total of 6-under 210.
Reese Guzman finished as the low female amateur at 222. Pat McGinness held on to his three-day lead of A-Flight, posting a 231 to finish two shots ahead of JB Bryant.