Japans Ishikawa impressive in US Open debut

By Associated PressJune 19, 2010, 1:35 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – If Ryo Ishikawa needed any reassurance about his emerging golf game, he got it from none other than eight-time major winner Tom Watson.

Paired with Watson in the second round Friday, the two stood in the scorer’s trailer after coming off the 18th green at Pebble Beach and shared some friendly words. Watson reached out for a handshake and wished the 18-year-old Japanese star well.

“Tom said to me that I will have a good future,” Ishikawa said.

The stylish Ishikawa, with bright-colored clothes, a consistent putter and youthful acne on his cheery face, is right in the hunt in his U.S. Open debut. Ishikawa followed his 1-under opening-round Thursday by shooting an even-par 71 Friday for an impressive two-day score of 141.

Now, Ishikawa wants to ride that momentum right into a strong weekend. He has adjusted his shots for a tough course along the Pacific Coast he insists is nothing like the oceanside links he plays back home.

Ishikawa sported all pink Thursday – a pink zip-up sweater, pink slacks and pink shoes. On Friday, he toned it down a tad with a cherry-red zip-up sweater and off-white pants.

He is making the right kind of splash at Pebble, where even some of the best golfers in this bunch are splashing balls into the ocean or hitting off cliffs into the rocks or beach below. Davis Love III did it on the 18th tee Friday, playing in the group in front of Ishikawa.

Ishikawa birdied the par-3, 208-yard 17th that has been creating all kinds of problems for others in the field so far.

“I like it. I like 17,” Ishikawa said with a smile speaking perfect English, though he did receive help from interpreter Jumpei Kaneko for other responses. “I hit a 4-iron today and I couldn’t see where the ball landed after the first bounce. It was just a lucky bounce. The putting was very straight. Straight, right in, so yesterday and today I was very lucky.”

Ryo Ishikawa 2010 U.S. Open round 2
18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa is 1 under heading into the weekend. (Getty Images)

There’s a little more to his game than just luck.

Ishikawa turned pro in 2007 and has won seven titles on the Japan Tour. At The Crowns event last month in Togo, Japan, he shot a 12-under 58 for the lowest score ever on a major tour.

He made 12 birdies in a bogey-free round on the 6,545-yard Nagoya Golf Club course. Ishikawa surprised even himself with that one.

Now, everybody else is catching on to this kid’s potential. A newcomer no more.

“Ryo played fantastically,” said Rory McIlroy, also in Ishikawa’s Friday threesome. “He made a lot of putts. If he can keep his short game the way it is, I can definitely see him competing this weekend.”

With a media contingent at the Open not unlike the large groups covering big-name major leaguers such as Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Matsui, Ishikawa exhibits the poise of someone well beyond his years.

Does he feel pressure on his sport’s big stage?

His motto is more about pushing himself to be the best he can be, rather than creating huge expectations this early in his career – or letting outside distractions derail his goals.

“I don’t know if it’s the right word, but my feeling is go for it,” Ishikawa said. “So, challenging is something to me, and especially in the tournaments outside Japan, it doesn’t mean anything if I don’t challenge things.”

After struggling with his short game during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am here in February, Ishikawa went back to Japan and vowed to be better on Pebble’s unforgiving greens when he returned.

“And this week I’m doing great on putting,” he said.

Before he departed Friday, Ishikawa quickly signed a ball and handed it to Watson’s son and caddie, Michael.

“I really appreciate it,” Michael Watson said, reaching out his hand. “Keep up the good play.”

It’s hard not to like Ishikawa. He’s fresh, real.

Morito Matsuda and his wife, Hisae, are visiting Northern California from Tokyo. Their son lives in San Francisco, so they paired a visit to the Bay Area with watching a day of golf.

The couple were thrilled to get to see Ishikawa’s success on 17.

“He’s a good boy, only 18,” Morito Matsuda said. “We’re very excited. We got up at 3:30 a.m. to get here from San Francisco so we could see him practice –  and he was on the driving range right next to Tiger Woods.”

Ishikawa said he hears and appreciates all the Japanese fans in the gallery and their cheers of “gambatte!”– which translates to “Go for it!” or “Try your best!”

“He’s extraordinary,” Ernie Els said. “He played in the Presidents Cup last year, and I really got to know him well there. He’s a great kid. It’s amazing that he’s only 18. He already shot 58 this year. Just think about it, shooting 58 in the Tour over there in Japan at 18, it’s phenomenal. He’s a really good player, great kid. There’s a lot of youngsters coming through. I think what Tiger has done, a lot of these kids want to do what he’s done, so they come out early and they’re aggressive and they’re confident.”

Ishikawa’s plan: keep it up for another two days.

“I hope I can play more aggressive tomorrow and the next two days,” he said. “I hope I can focus on my golf, just on my golf.”

It’s worked so far.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.