Newsmakers 2007

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Newsmakers 2007

November 19, 2007

Tadd Fujikawa

Feat: The 5-foot-1 high-school junior was Hawaii's latest teen sensation when his second-round 66 at January's Sony Open helped him become the youngest to make a PGA Tour cut in nearly 50 years. He finished T-20, nine strokes back of winner Paul Goydos, but his performance upstaged the entire field, including fellow wunderkind Michelle Wie.Postscript: While Fujikawa already was the youngest to play in a U.S. Open, his celebrity–and endorsement potential–spiked after Sony and a subsequent win in Hawaii's Pearl Open. By July he capitalized, turning pro to help defray expenses for his burgeoning career, yet in five PGA and Nationwide starts, he has yet to make another cut.

Daniel Summerhays

Feat: His first-team All-American status at Brigham Young got him into the field at July's Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, where he carded a six-under 278 and proceeded to become the first amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event.Postscript: Summerhays had 60 days to decide whether to return to school for his senior year or turn pro and claim full-exempt status on the Nationwide Tour through 2008. Within two weeks he chose the latter, playing in 12 events and making the cut in 10.

Jamie Lovemark

Feat: The USC freshman nearly became the first amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event himself, shooting a closing-round 65 at June's Rochester Area Charities Showdown before falling to Chris Riley in a playoff. This came two weeks after Lovemark took the NCAA individual title with back-to-back closing 64s. In July an opening-round 67 at AT&T National helped him make his second PGA Tour cut of the year and third in three career starts.Postscript: For now, Lovemark has heeded the advice of his hometown pal, Phil Mickelson, returning to school this fall for his sophomore year rather than turn pro.

Stacy Lewis

Feat: Almost four years removed from major surgery to get her out of the back brace she had worn since age 8 because of scoliosis, the Arkansas All-American recorded a T-5 finish at March's Kraft Nabisco Championship, then won the LPGA's rain-shortened NW Arkansas Championship in September with a 65. Since the latter event was cut to 18 holes, the LPGA didn't recognize the victory as "official," leaving JoAnne Carner's triumph at the 1969 Burdine's Invitational as the last by an amateur. Lewis did get to keep the winner's trophy, at least.Postscript: Lewis, who also claimed the NCAA individual title in May after shooting a final-round 66 at LPGA International that included five straight back-nine birdies, has won two college events this fall for the Lady Razorbacks. After she wraps up her senior year next May, she is a lock to play for Carol Semple Thompson's U.S. Curtis Cup team competing at the Old Course at St. Andrews in June.

Rory McIlroy

Feat: At Carnoustie GL in July, McIlroy posted the only bogey-free opening round (a 68 that put him in a tie for third place) en route to becoming the first Irish amateur to make the cut at a British Open since 1965. He also was the only amateur to make the cut at any of the men's major championships, eventually finishing T-42.Postscript: The former European Amateur champion turned pro in September after going 1-2-1 in the Walker Cup not far from home at Royal County Down. He then recorded two top-five finishes in four European Tour starts, securing 2008 playing privileges.

Colt Knost

Feat: A second-round 64 at the PGA Tour's EDS Byron Nelson Championship, believed to be the lowest score on tour by an amateur since 1966, helped the SMU All-American make the cut outside his hometown in April. His best golf, though, came in the summer when be claimed the the U.S. Amateur and Public Links titles, just the second person to win both in the same year.Postscript: Hoping his strong play would continue in PGA Tour Q school, Knost turned pro in October, turning down exemptions into the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.

Alexis Thompson

Feat: In a two-month span beginning in June, the sixth-grader became the youngest to play in a U.S. Women's Open (she missed the cut at Pine Needles), the youngest winner of the Westfield Junior PGA (shot a one-under 283) and youngest U.S. Women's Amateur quarterfinalist (went 33 holes without a bogey at Crooked Stick GC).Postscript: After a year of making history, Thompson ended 2007 in 10th place in the Polo Golf junior rankings.

Pablo Martin

Feat: Taking two weeks off from college golf at Oklahoma State in March to play in a pair of European Tour events, the former British Boys' champion missed the cut at the Madeira Island Open only to win the Estoril Portuguese Open and become the first amateur to claim a tournament title in tour history.Postscript: The 2006 college player of the year already planned to turn pro at end of his junior year in June. After qualifying for the U.S. Open, he made his play-for-pay debut there, finishing T-30. He competed in three other PGA Tour events and nine on the European Tour, where he has full status in 2008.

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