Ishikawa to give 2011 golf earnings to victims

By Doug FergusonMarch 31, 2011, 5:44 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ryo Ishikawa first made people take notice because of his golf. He won his first Japan Golf Tour event as a 15-year-old amateur, won the money title at 17 and last year became the first player to shoot 58 on a major tour.

His latest eye-opening feat brought attention to his heart.

Wanting to do his part to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated his native Japan, Ishikawa decided to donate his entire tournament earnings this year – plus a bonus for every birdie he makes – toward relief efforts.

“I don’t view this as pressure to perform, but it will instead be extra motivation for me,” Ishikawa said Friday in an email to The Associated Press. “I always believe in myself, but because I am playing for the people of Japan, I feel like I will be playing with a greater purpose this year.”

Ishikawa, who at 19 already has nine wins on the Japan Golf Tour, was third on Japan’s money list last year with just over $1.82 million.

He also has pledged about $1,200 (100,000 yen) for every birdie. He led the Japanese tour last year with 341 birdies, which would amount to over $400,000.

Even in a sport driven by charity, Ishikawa’s generosity caught the attention of his colleagues.

“It’s the most unbelievable gesture ever, isn’t it?” Geoff Ogilvy said Friday. “I saw it fly past last night on Twitter and I thought, ‘Ah, that’s nice.’ About five minutes later I said, ‘Hang on a minute. All his prize money?’ Which is ridiculous for anybody, but for someone who’s 19 to have that level of thought for others … it’s amazing.”

Ishikawa was playing the Cadillac Championship at Doral on March 11 when he awoke to news of the earthquake and tsunami, and saw horrific images of the destruction. He finished off a 65 in the first round, then struggled the rest of the week.

He missed the cut at the Transitions Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, then headed to Augusta, Ga., this week to meet up with his family and get ready for the Masters. Ishikawa is from Saitama, about 300 miles away from the area hardest hit by the tsunami.

Ishikawa said he has spent most of his money on making life easier for himself, from building a short-game practice facility near his house to buying fitness equipment.

“I feel fortunate to be in a position to afford such things, but I know that my success is a result of the support of so many people,” he said in the email. “While golf is my profession, and I want to have a long and successful career, there are things that are more important. And the people of Japan are dealing with life and death issues as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.

“I feel it is my turn to give back in whatever way I can to support the people who have been so supportive of me.”

Known earlier in his career as “Bashful Prince,” Ishikawa has become the face of golf in Japan. He played 34 times last year, including one stretch of 20 tournaments in 22 weeks, because the tour and sponsors lean so heavily on him.

Ogilvy is among those who understand the level of attention Ishikawa generates in Japan. He was playing the Taheiyo Masters toward the end of 2007 when he saw a horde of photographers rushing across the practice green, cameras over their heads to snap pictures. Ogilvy asked who they were following and was told, “This is the kid who’s going to save the Japanese Tour.”

“He’s probably close to being the most famous sportsman in Japan,” Ogilvy said. “He’s the Tiger Woods of Japan. And a lot of people will see what he’s done. It’s another sign of how grown up he is.”

Ishikawa played for the International team in the Presidents Cup two years ago in San Francisco. He went 3-2, with the two losses coming against the undefeated tandem of Woods and Steve Stricker.

“I spent a week with him at the Presidents Cup,” Ogilvy said. “You don’t learn a person in a week. But it doesn’t surprise me. You spend time with him and realize that he’s a good guy. This isn’t a PR thing. He must feel very strongly about his country.”

Word of his gesture began to filter through the golf industry Thursday night and Friday.

“Ryo’s unselfish pledge to donate all his worldwide prize money this year … is an indication of the maturity this 19-year-old has demonstrated on and off the golf course since he burst onto the international golf stage,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

“That’s unbelievable. I haven’t heard of anybody doing that,” Stricker said from the Houston Open. “It’s a great testament to what kind of kid he is. It obviously touches him pretty deeply.”

“It warmed my heart that he is the type of character we thought he was, and he continues to display it,” said Gerald Goodman, who offered Ishikawa his first PGA Tour exemption two years ago at the Transitions Championship. “Athletes from Japan are rallying to help their country. But to give it all? That’s something.”

The hardest part for Ishikawa was being patient in deciding what he should do. Jumbo Ozaki, who is to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May, suggested that Japanese players donate 20 percent of their earnings.

Ishikawa decided to go even further.

“I wanted to help right away, but I discussed with my staff and family over the past three weeks and came up with the idea,” Ishikawa said. “A number of other Japanese athletes announced their support right away, and I felt a bit of pressure of jump in quickly. But I wanted to take the time to figure out how I could help best.

“I believed right away that it was the right thing to do and am very motivated to not only raise money for the people of Japan, but hopefully also encourage them as the country recovers.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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