When it comes to legendary Sony Open stories, none will ever top the tale of Tadd Fujikawa, who made it into the field as a 16-year-old on the strength of his 67 in a state qualifier. Of course, he went on to make the cut, wow-ing the home crowd in the process and creating an indelible Waialae memory.
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But depending on how Jared Sawada fares this week at Sony, his story might be right up there with Tadd’s.
Sawada, a Hawaii native who played college golf at the University of Hawaii from 2008 to 2012, was in the Sony Open Monday Qualifying field earlier this week at Hoakalei Country Club in Honolulu. For a good portion of his round, Sawada appeared to have locked up a spot in just his third career PGA Tour event, the first two being the 2014 and 2017 Sony Opens, when he missed the cut and finished T-69, respectively.
Through 16 holes the 27-year-old was eight under, with a field-leading nine birdies and just one bogey. As long as disaster didn’t strike, he would easily get another crack at the Sony Open.
Unfortunately for Sawada, disaster did strike, as he made a triple-bogey seven at the par-4 17th hole, dropping him to five under on the day. Another bogey would have ended his chances, but he salvaged par at the 18th hole to get in the clubhouse at five under, one off the lead of Talor Gooch and Brent Grant. Sawada’s 67 wound up being good enough for a 3-for-2 playoff with Andy Pope, a Web.com Tour veteran who has made just five career starts on the PGA Tour, and Corey Conners, who just finished his rookie season on tour. Conners notably took the lead into the final round at the Valspar Championship, but carded a final-round 77 to finish in a tie for 16th.
Conners and Sawada earned the final two spots, meaning Sawada pulled off an incredibly rare feat in still qualifying with a triple bogey. According to @acaseofthegolf1, a Twitter account dedicated to following Monday qualifiers throughout the PGA Tour season, no one has done what Sawada did in the last four years:
We’re sure Sawada would have rather just carded a stress-free, nine-under 63, but where’s the fun in that? Impressive achievement by him, and definitely one he doesn’t want to make a habit of. Make sure to keep an eye out for the hometown kid this week in Honolulu. He’s off in the final group on Thursday, 1:30 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. ET.
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