Hot Seat: Blame it on Ryo


Careful where you sit, the surfaces get hot around here.

Welcome back to golf’s Hot Seat, where we aim to gauge who is facing the most heat during the week.

Here’s our special heat index with the PGA Tour turning to the Sony Open and the European Tour to the Joburg Open:

Wasabi spicy – Ryo Ishikawa

They call him the “Bashful Prince.”

The nickname wasn’t supposed to characterize how shy he is about climbing onto PGA Tour leaderboards, but it does.

Though Ishikawa is only 20 years old, he’s already won 10 professional events in Japan. He was 15 when he won his first. He was 17 when he cracked the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

A proven commodity in his Japanese homeland, Ishikawa’s a superstar there. In the United States? He’s overrated, so far.

Ishikawa arrives for this week’s Sony Open looking to make a better American impression. Because when you look at his PGA Tour record, you can’t helping wondering, what’s all the fuss about? In 24 starts in PGA Tour stroke-play events, Ishikawa has missed the cut 13 times. He shot 85 in the opening round of the PGA Championship in his last American start and missed that cut. This was after he looked like he was breaking through over here with a tie for fourth at the WGC-Bridgestone. That, however, is his only top-10 finish in a PGA Tour event.

There is still a lot of time for Ishikawa to make his mark over here, but the temperature is rising.

Mark Wilson

Thermal lava plumes – Mark Wilson

Every defending champ takes a hot seat.

With Wilson returning to defend his title at the Sony Open, there’s pressure to live up to the title, to perform like a champion, to shake all the right hands and still shake in a few putts.

In 47 years of the Sony Open, only Hubert Green (1978-79), Corey Pavin (1986-87) and Ernie Els (2003-04) have successfully defended titles.

Charl Schwartzel

Serengeti sunburn – Charl Schwartzel

With his buddy Louis Oosthuizen successfully defending his title at the Africa Open on Sunday, it’s Schwartzel's turn to repeat at the European Tour’s Joburg Open this week.

Nobody wants his buddies one-upping him.

Actually, if Schwartzel wins again, it would be a three-peat. He won this event in 2010 and ’11.

By the way, only five players have won the same European Tour sanctioned event three years in a row: Ian Woosnam (1990-92 Monte Carlo Open), Nick Faldo (1991-93 Irish Open), Colin Montgomerie (1998-2000 PGA Championship), Ernie Els (2002-04 Heineken Classic) and Tiger Woods (2005-07 WGC–CA Championship and WGC–Bridgestone Invitational).

Erik Compton

Pacific heat wave – Erik Compton

Yeah, I know, this remarkable man has faced a lot more pressure in his life, but in golf terms, Compton, 32, is sure to feel some heat trying to take advantage of his chance as a rookie. Yes, after all he’s gone through, this season should feel like frosting for Compton, but there’s self-imposed pressure in wanting to get off to a fast start. When you’ve waited so long, tried so hard, overcome so much to make it, there’s a struggle in not wanting it to too much.