I still haven't been to Disney World, but last week at the U.S.
Open I did realize one of my dreams--playing in a major
championship. I got to Pinehurst through sectional qualifying,
and despite finishing a depressing 57th after a first-round 68,
the Open was more fun than a big night of karaoke back home in
The merchandise tent at the Open was unbelievable. It was huge
but a bit costly, even with my contestant discount--more than
$800 for a jacket, four hats and about 20 T-shirts. I couldn't
go home without anything to give to my friends.
The Open was my seventh PGA Tour event this year, and I'm
convinced that I want to and can play here full-time. At the
Memorial tournament the players got courtesy cars and all the
food we could eat, and everybody at the club treated us like we
were kings. We were pampered more than I ever have been in
Japan. It also didn't hurt that I finished tied for seventh
place. However, I did miss out on one of the tournament's best
perks, milk shakes, because my English is not so good. You can
bet I will try several of them next time.
When I made my first trip to the U.S. in January, I was curious
to see if the Tour was really the best in the world. Now I know
it is, and not just because of the perks. The competition is
top-notch, and all the tournaments are like the Super Bowl
because they are so well managed and have such huge crowds. With
the $8,840 I won at Pinehurst, I'm 147th on the PGA Tour money
list. My problem is that as a nonmember I can only accept one
more sponsor's exemption in 1999, and if I haven't made enough
money after that event I may have to go to Q school. I'll make
it to the PGA Tour, though, and when I do, my favorite
tournament will be the one where Mickey Mouse gives you the
Kaname Yokoo, 26, is 35th on the 1999 JPGA money list.
COLOR PHOTO: STEVE SCHAEFER/AFP