Riviera gearing up for Ryo-mania

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2009, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenRyo Ishikawa was 9 when he first watched the Masters on television from his home in the Tokyo suburbs.
It turned out to be historic on a couple of fronts.
I remember it well, Ishikawa wrote in an e-mail. I watched Toshi Izawa playing in the 2001 Masters. He shot a 67 on Sunday and tied for fourth place, which was the best-ever finish by a Japanese player in the Masters. So it was very exciting in Japan.
Ryo Ishikawa
Ryo Ishikawa has already been dubbed the 'Shy Prince.' (Getty Images)
It also was exciting at Augusta National, for that was the year Tiger Woods won the Masters to complete a 294-day sweep of the four major championships.
No doubt, the 17-year-old Ishikawa remembers him, too.
Tiger Woods is the player that inspires me the most, he said before leaving Japan for Los Angeles, where he will make his PGA Tour debut this week at Riviera in the Northern Trust Open. There are many players from Japan and other places that I look up to, but to me, Tiger Woods is the best.
Ishikawa said when he turned pro at 16 that his dream was to be the youngest Masters champion. He will get his first chance in April, and possibly three other cracks at a green jacket to supplant Woods.
Whether he becomes the next Tiger, or even Japans version of him, remains to be seen. In the two American Junior Golf Association tournaments Ishikawa played as a 14-year-old ' the year before he won a Japan Golf Tour event ' Ishikawa finished 43rd at Grayhawk and missed the cut at Bay Hill.
Still, he already gets the kind of paparazzi that usually accompanies the worlds No. 1 player.
Ryo Ishikawa attracts Tiger-like attention in Asia, and it will be fun for a U.S. audience to see him for the first time at the Northern Trust Open, tournament director Tom Pulchinski said when he gave Ishikawa an exemption.
Pulchinski wasnt kidding.
The tournament already has issued 400 media credentials, up 100 from last year, and the number of credentials for the Japanese media alone is five times higher. Organizers have added 40 feet of space to the working area in the press tent, doubled the size of the dining area and expanded the interview room.
The PGA Tour is doing its part. Media regulations have been translated into Japanese, and the Tour has hired an interpreter for Ishikawa. It also assigned an additional media official to work exclusively with Ishikawa ' along with the two players in his group.
At least they know what to expect.
Tom Strong wasnt that fortunate when he was tournament director of the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1996. He gave a sponsors exemption to Woods four months before the tournament, but he had only one days notice that Woods ' coming off an unprecedented third straight U.S. Amateur title ' would say hello to the world in Milwaukee.
When he made the announcement he was turning pro, the media center was 20-by-40, Strong said. We ended up moving it to a big pavilion. I think there was 300-plus media.
Now, the teenager phenom referred to as the Shy Prince is coming to Sunset Boulevard.
Ishikawa got the nickname because of his youth and his modest demeanor, although one has to wonder how long that will last considering the amount of press that follows his every move.
I have still not gotten used to it, I guess, he said. But I have a great deal of appreciation for it, because it means that the fans care enough about me to name me that, and because many more fans have come to know me because of it.
Ishikawa earned such fame when he was 15 and won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on the Japan Golf Tour while a freshman in high school. That made him the youngest winner on a tour recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking.
After turning pro, Ishikawa last year won the mynavi ABC Championship and wound up fifth on Japans money list.
Exemptions began pouring in, starting with a letter from the King to the Prince.
I have been following your achievements in Japan and I am quite impressed with what you have accomplished at such a young age, Arnold Palmer wrote to Ishikawa, inviting him to play at Bay Hill next month.
Ishikawa also received an exemption to Riviera and to the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook.
He narrowly missed a spot in the 64-man field of the Accenture Match Play Championship ' he currently is the third alternate ' and he would need a big week at Riviera to qualify for the CA Championship at Doral.
But he has a spot in the Masters, where he will be the second-youngest player in history behind Tommy Jacobs in 1952.
Three weeks after Augusta National invited Ishikawa, chairman Billy Payne and R&A chief executive Peter Dawson announced the new Asian Amateur Championship, to be played this year, with the winner earning a spot in the Masters. The idea was to stimulate even more interest in golfs fastest-growing market.
We thought if we could identify good golfers and create heroes who would be emulated by other kids, in the process they would be attracted to the game, Payne said Sunday.
Ishikawa idolizes Woods, but his first hero was Jumbo Ozaki, who won more than 100 times around the world, never in America.
He is a legend in Japan, Ishikawa said. He is one of the main reasons why golf is so popular in Japan today.
The Shy Prince is merely carrying the torch, but given the attention on him, he might be able to turn the flicker into a flame.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Northern Trust Open
  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: