From Hawaii to the big time isn't that easy

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HONOLULU - Hawaii is celebrating one golf feat after another these days, from the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour (Tadd Fujikawa) to the youngest U.S. Women's Amateur champion (Kimberly Kim) to Dean Wilson becoming the first player from Hawaii to win on the PGA Tour in 16 years.

But it's not easy for most of them to reach the big time, and Wilson offered an excellent illustration.

A public course kid from Kaneohe on the north end of Oahu, he could only afford one trip to the mainland to play in the Junior Worlds at Torrey Pines. That kept him from getting noticed by colleges, and he didn't have a single scholarship offer when he left high school. Wilson wound up going to BYU-Hawaii with hopes of getting into a Division I school.

He transferred to the main campus of BYU - former Masters champion Mike Weir was on that team - but had to walk on and still had a tough time getting into the lineup over the scholarship players. Whenever he complained, the coach put him in his place with a line they both laugh about to this day.

"He told me, 'You're a dime a dozen. For all I care, you can paddle your canoe back to wherever you came from,'" Wilson recalled.

Wilson now lives in Las Vegas, but he keeps in touch with Hawaii golf through a Web site, www.808golf.com, and he wants to start a foundation for Hawaii juniors that would help with their travel to the mainland.

LEFTY'S SCHEDULE: Phil Mickelson said Tuesday that he plans to play as many as six out of seven events through the end of the FedExCup season, but there will be one big change to his schedule.

Mickelson said he would skip the tournaments before the Masters and the U.S. Open. He won the BellSouth Classic last year by 13 shots, then won his second green jacket a week later.

BellSouth has moved to May, and Houston will be a week before the Masters.

HALL BALLOT: The ballots were mailed last week for the World Golf Hall of Fame, with Curtis Strange and Jumbo Ozaki among the top candidates based on voting a year ago.

Larry Nelson was the only player from the PGA Tour ballot to get enough votes last year at 65 percent, followed by Henry Picard (53 percent), who later was inducted posthumously from the Veteran's Category.

The only newcomer to the PGA Tour ballot was David Toms, who turned 40 this year. Candidates must have 10 victories or two majors (including The Players Championship), be at least 40 and have been a tour member at least 10 years.

Voting ends on March 2.


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