Tadd Fujikawa, the talented 16-year-old golfer from Hawaii, rounded off a memorable first appearance in Europe by beating tour veteran Eduardo Romero in the Omega Generation Challenge at the end of the third round of the Omega European Masters at Crans-Montana on Saturday.
After completing his second round with an amazing double eagle (or albatross) at the 632-yard 9th hole at Crans, one of the longest in Europe, Fujikawa showed what a great competitor he is by edging out Romero in three of the four nearest-the-pin contests.
A crowd of around 1,000 who had stayed on to watch the fun and games at the 18th green were entertained from the start as, from a distance of 100 yards (90 metres), Fujikawa’s first attempt pitched just beyond the pin, spun back and seemed headed for the hole but ran about three feet (one metre) past.
Romero, fresh from a third-round 72 that gave him an outside chance of winning at Crans for a third time, then played an even better shot to within two feet. But Fujikawa, with his second attempt, incredibly finished around 18 inches (0.5m) from the hole while Romero’s second ended in the water.
The next challenge was chipping from the fairway bunker, a hard task with the pin placed towards the front of the green just beyond the water hazard. Twice Romero found almost the identical spot towards the back of the green, while Fujikawa’s first attempt merely found the water. But he laughed it off and, with his second attempt, just made the front of the green which was good enough to win the second contest too.
Then the players had to chip from a short distance across the water, and while Romero favoured a low bump and run, getting to within 10 feet with his second shot, Fujikawa preferred the lofted approach. His second pitched just outside the Argentine’s ball but gripped and spun back just enough to end Romero’s hopes of tying the contest.
Even on the final challenge Fujikawa gave no quarter as, with his second putt from across the green, he managed to emulate Romero’s best effort and so the last game ended all square. Mr Stephen Urquhart, president of Omega, and Mr Gaston Barras, president of the Crans-sur-Sierre golf club, then presented each player with an inscribed silver salver, Romero’s to mark his 20th consecutive appearance at the tournament and Fujikawa’s to commemorate his double eagle.
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