Fujita leaves for Augusta in good company

When Art Fujita leaves for the the Master’s golf tournament, he’ll have several firsts under his belt.

Fujita, the chairman of the Kaua‘i Sectionals for Public Links, Casey Watabu playing in Augusta as the representative from Kaua‘i is a first.

Watabu earned the berth in the Master’s tournament by being the fifth player from Hawai‘i to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, where Fujita said he performed “masterfully.”

En route to the victory, Watabu had to beat six opponents in the grueling test of physical stamina and mental fortitude, Fujita said.

“When Casey finally won the championship, he had played 160 holes of golf within a week,” Fujita said. “His victory was priceless.”

Fujita said Watabu’s win was a stunning and impressive victory in his third attempt in the National Championship.

Anthony Kim, a three-time All American at Oklahoma and a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team in 2005, was Watabu’s opponent in the finals.

In addition to his credentials, Kim was described by Golfworld magazine as qualifying for the PGA tour for 2007 and finished by tying for 13th in the rigorous six-round test called “Q School.”

Watabu, in defeating Kim, had set a new standard for Hawai‘i as no other golfer from the Aloha State had defeated someone of Kim’s credentials and stature, described by some as “a projected superstar on the PGA tour.”

Watabu, as a co-medalist in May, 2006, helped his university men’s golf team win its first ever individual medalist honors at an NCAA Regional.

He followed this by becoming a National Champion in July before graduating in December with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Nevada at Reno.

“Let us applaud his achievements and observe his potentially exciting future,” Fujita said. “Playing Augusta, much less playing in the Master’s can only exist as a fantasy for most of us.”

“The excitement of watching and applauding Casey as he fulfills our fantasies competing against the world’s best, is truly an exciting anticipation.”

Fujita is hopeful Watabu will pick up more memories and that those memories will supercede those of 2006.

When Fujita boards the plane for Augusta, he’ll be in the company of Watabu’s parents who extended an invitation to him to accompany them to the Master’s — another first.

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