DORAL, Fla. – As if a 7,266-yard golf course, gusting winds and a world-class field weren’t enough to worry about, Yuta Ikeda and Ryo Ishikawa played Friday’s first and second rounds with understandably heavy hearts.
Sendai, which Ikeda calls his “second home,” was the closest city to the epicenter of an 8.9 magnitude quake and he was still trying to find out how his friends had weathered the devastation.
“It was very difficult,” said Ikeda, who appeared emotional and distracted on his way to a second-round 73. “The tough part is phones still aren’t working and I haven’t been able to contact anyone.”
Ikeda, who attended Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, learned of the quake via an e-mail from a friend early Friday morning and “from that point on it was just watching TV and making calls.”
Martin Laird, who played with Ikeda on Friday, said he could only imagine how hard Friday was for him.
“You never want to see those things anywhere,” Laird said. “I’m sure his mind wasn’t on the golf tournament today and you can’t really blame him for that.”
At least Ishikawa, who lives about 250 miles from Sendai, had received confirmation that his family was safe and unharmed.
“I received communication from my father and the message was, ‘Focus on your golf, we are fine. Do what you need to do,’” Ishikawa said through an interrupter. “I tried my best to block everything out but as you can imagine it was tough.”
Ishikawa struggled to a second-round 76 and is tied for 16th, while Ikeda is tied for 54th.