Ishikawa to get quick baptism at Presidents Cup

By Doug FergusonOctober 8, 2009, 4:19 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Geoff Ogilvy recalls playing in the Taiheiyo Masters in Japan when he noticed a swarm of photographers and fans descending over a hill, scrambling for the best view.

“It was a Tiger pack,” Ogilvy said.

He turned to his playing partner, Brendan Jones of Australia, a regular on the Japan Golf Tour, and asked, “Who’s that?”

“It’s the kid,” Jones replied.

He wasn’t kidding.

Ryo Ishikawa was only 16 at the time, already a star. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he became the youngest player to win a tournament that carried official world ranking points. Having since turned professional, the Japanese sensation has four victories over the last calendar year, more than anyone else on his International team at the Presidents Cup.

“I think Ryo is one of the most exciting players in the world today,” Ernie Els said.

He is used to having “the youngest” attached to just about everything he does, and this week is no different. Ishikawa, who recently turned 18, is the youngest ever to compete in the Presidents Cup.

The fast track continues Thursday when the Presidents Cup gets under way with six foursomes matches. The most compelling will be the fifth match: Ogilvy and Ishikawa against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

It was International captain Greg Norman’s idea to put Ogilvy, who has an 18-3 record in match play, with Ishikawa. U.S. captain Fred Couples decided to put Woods and Stricker into that match.

Ishikawa is up for the challenge, even while showing his deep respect.

“I know that for the U.S. team, Mr. Woods and Mr. Stricker, they are going to be basically the No. 1 team,” Ishikawa said through a translator. “And I’m very excited because of the fact that Mr. Couples picked Mr. Woods and Mr. Stricker to be our opponents. Obviously, this is going to be an important match.

“I feel that if we can win this one, maybe we can stop the American team from getting out of their rhythm.”

That’s the goal for everyone on the International team.

The first day of the Presidents Cup has rarely meant so much to one team. Memories are still fresh from two years ago at Royal Montreal, however, when the opening session ended without a single International victory.

The United States won five of six matches. The other was halved. The International team never seriously cut into the five-point deficit, and it turned out to be another U.S. victory.

The Americans lead the series 5-1-1, and the tale of the tape does not favor the International side at Harding Park.

  •  The Americans have never lost on home soil.
  • The only International victory came 11 years ago in Australia, played late in the year when the U.S. team was not in form.
  • Seven players on the International team have not won anywhere in the world this year.

How bleak is the outlook? Els figured the International team would consider it a victory Thursday if it can split the matches.

Then again, perhaps that can work in its favor.

“We normally come here with a very good team on paper, and it seems like this year, some of us haven’t played that great,” Els said. “We feel like we are underdogs, and I think we kind of want to prove something this week.”

Ishikawa is not one to get rattled.

He has had what seems like the entire Japanese nation following his entire move for so long, and the presence of photographers is nothing new. As for the stage, he played with Woods and Lee Westwood the first two days at the British Open, where he held his own against the world’s No. 1 player until a late fade that caused him to miss the cut, just like Woods.

About the only thing that spooked him Wednesday was meeting Michael Jordan, who is in official attire in his unofficial role as an honorary assistant for the American team.

“Mr. Jordan was really big, and I saw him from a far distance yesterday,” Ishikawa said. “So I was really excited to get to meet him today and to speak with him briefly.”

The Americans always look as though they are having a good time at the Presidents Cup, perhaps because they usually are winning. The extra dimension this week has been the appearance of Jordan – minus the trail of smoke coming from his cigar.

City officials saw a picture of him in the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday smoking his stogie, and asked the tour to remind Jordan that smoking is banned at Harding Park, even for an NBA icon.

“I think he’s a team motivator,” Zach Johnson said. “You talk about the best basketball player of all time, but you’re also talking about one of the best team players of all time. When you add that ingredient into it, I just think it’s a positive.”

All that matters is points on the board, which is unpredictable until the matches get under way.

The U.S. team looks like the favorite on paper. It has the top three players in the world – Woods, Phil Mickelson and Stricker – and five of the top nine. It has seven major champions. Eight of its players have won in the last five months.

Paper never matters in this format – not the credentials, not the pairings.

“There’s no real equation that you’re going to put on paper that’s going to work,” Vijay Singh said. “You just have to go out there and play good golf, and I think that’s what the guys are geared up for. And hopefully, the golf is going to be a little bit more favorable to us this time.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm