Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 4:50 pm

Ishikawa says sayonara to his hot streak

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Ryo Ishikawa patiently waded through his daily, ritualistic post-round chat with the Japanese media, which took about 20 minutes.

Then it was time for the English-speaking media to pepper him with questions. The 19-year-old did the best he could.

After all, in any language, it's hard to explain a 15-over-par 85.

After splashing six balls into the water, the Japanese teen became the butt of more than a few jokes in the first round of the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

He almost shot the temperature. Surprisingly, the bullet-train wreck comes just four days after easily his best showing in the States, a strong T4 performance last week at the Bridgestone Invitational.

"My practice rounds went very well," he said through an interpreter. "Since yesterday, there's a difference in my swing."

Ishikawa started poorly and it only got worse. He had an astounding six double-bogeys on the card, and as the afteroon wave was playing, his score was the worst of the day by four strokes.

"This is the last major tournament [of the year]," he said. "When I went to the second hole and hit my ball in the water, I felt stiffer and stiffer."

That certainly wasn't from the stifling Atlanta heat, which was in the 90s by about 11 a.m. ET.

"This is the first time I have hit so many in the water," he said.

Remarkably, this was the second straight round in succession in which Ishikawa posted in the 80s at a major. He shot 80 in the second round of the British Open last month and missed the cut.

Category: Golf
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:25 pm

Japanese players hope play lifts spirits at home

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For Ryo Ishikawa and at least one of his countrymen, a happy day turned into yet another tragic one when they completed the first round at the Masters on Thursday.

Up and on the course early, the Japanese superstar didn't learn that a second major earthquake had rocked his homeland until he was informed after posting a 1-under 71 by the press.

At first, he didn't even understand the questions, thinking the questions related to the quake that devastated the northern part of Japan three weeks ago.

Ishikawa, who seemed at a loss for words when told an aftershock of at least 7 on the Richter Scale had struck Thursday, said he would do his best to male some fans smile back home. Beyond that, he feels as helpless as the rest of us.

"I understand that people ... they are living in hell," he said somberly. "I would love to show the energy and power of what golf can bring to those people."

Hiroyuki Fujita, who shot a 2-under 70, felt equally adrift. 

"I think I'm just happy that whatever I do and how I play will encourage people in Japan," Fujita said.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 11, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 10:51 am

With heavy heart, Ishikawa rises at Doral

DORAL, Fla. -- Ryo Ishikawa is doing his personal best to turn his scorecard into a get-well-soon card.

Unable to tune out the thoughts of the devastation back home in Japan, the 19-year-old star finished a 7-under 65 in the first round of the World Golf Championships event to move within a stroke of the lead at Doral Golf Resort & Spa on Friday.

Remarkably, though he found it nearly impossible to concentrate, it represented his best effort ever on American soil.

As is his habit, Ishikawa said he got up early on Friday and turned on his computer, and only then learned of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunamis that rocked the northeast part of Japan and left hundreds missing or dead as a 30-foot tidal wave slammed into the coast.

Ishikawa had to play six holes on Friday morning in order to complete his weather-delayed first round and said it was difficult to keep his attention from wandering.

"It is not possible to block something of this magnitude out completely," he said through a translator. "But I understand that in the position that I am, together with the other star athletes from Japan and other sporting areas, we can provide encouragement and hope for the people of Japan by doing the job."

He did that and then some.

It was easily Ishikawa's most impressive round in an American event after mostly struggling to make an impact when making occasional appearances at PGA Tour venues. Ishikawa fired an opening, 1-under 70 last year at the U.S. Open and was one shot off the lead, but was unable to sustain the momentum and finished T33.  In 16 starts in PGA Tour-sanctioned events, he has missed eight cuts and never has finished in the top 25 in a stroke-play event.

Thus, his underwhelming results in the States made his performance on Friday all the more notable. He played six holes on Friday morning in 2 under, despite winds gusting at 25 mph and unseasonably cold weather in the low 50s. Hunter Mahan leads after an 8-under 64.

Ishikawa's parents live approximately 250 miles from the epicenter of the quake, and was able to connect with them before he played. Many Japanese nationals at the event this week have been unable to get through to friends and relatives back home because communication lines are overloaded.

"I'm very much relieved that I was able to communicate with my family and they are fine," he said.

Ranked No. 42 in the world, Ishikawa said he read that professional sports have been suspended back home and that he hopes to give Japanese citizens something to cheer about.

"I am very much concerned for my country and my countrymen," he said. "All sports have been suspended and I hope we are able to provide some encouragement."

Hanging in there this week could provide quite a lift.

"It is beyond being a distraction for me," he said. "I try to focus, but it is a battle out there for me."

Japan's Yuta Ikeda, who attended college in the region where damage is the worst, has been unable to reach friends in the area and was too upset to speak with reporters after finishing his round Friday morning.

Posted on: February 15, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 1:29 pm

Transitions sees stars: Loading up on Euros

For the director of a PGA Tour event, the general plan when doling out sponsor exemptions is to allocate them to players who bring generate noise from a marketing and fan context.

It's hard to envision how the Transitions Championship in Tampa could have done much better, for a variety of reasons.

The tournament announced Tuesday that exemptions have been issued to three of the most exciting players on the European Tour, each of whom brings a different wrinkle.

World No. 2 Martin Kaymer of Germany, generally considered the hottest player on the planet over the past 13 months, teenage sensation Matteo Manassero of Italy and last week's winner in Dubai, power player Alvaro Quiros of Spain, all have committed to play at Innisbrook Resort when the event begins March 17.
Kaymer, making his debut at the event, will be the highest-ranked player ever to enter the Tampa tournament if he holds his ranking until next month. Only 26, the reigning PGA Championship winner has five worldwide wins over the past 13 months and played on the winning Ryder Cup team.

Manassero makes Kaymer look like an old man. Still 17, last year he became the youngest player ever to win a European Tour event and he's currently ranked No. 57 in the world. Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, 20, earlier was awarded an exemption, giving the event the two top-ranked players on the planet age 20 or younger. Ishikawa is ranked No. 40.

Quiros, whose charisma is surpassed only by his ability to hit balls into the next county, won last week in Dubai, climbed to a career-best 21st in the world with his fifth European win.

Both Quiros and Manassero are playing on sponsor’s exemptions. Kaymer and Ishikawa are playing on a commissioner's foreign exemption.

The Tampa field is expected to include three players from the world top 10 in Kaymer, Steve Stricker and defending champion Jim Furyk.

Category: Golf
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