“We have no snow in Tokyo,” writes Duke Ishikawa, our chief Asian correspondent. “But temperature is pretty low every day.”
Thanks, Duke. Keep us posted.
Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are kicking off their seasons with highly-compensated appearances at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Phil Mickelson’s debut comes at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif.
Ryo Ishikawa is also playing in the Humana, so Duke (no relation to Ryo) attached “a question for all my friends around the world” to his Tokyo weather report:
A Japanese of 21 years, Ryo Ishikawa, has just received a special exemption into the Masters. But I ask you, is Ishikawa a worthy player to be invited at this time? Ishikawa was 7th on our money list last year and 75th in the World Ranking.
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne gave several reasons for the invitation, but especially the supposed enthusiasm for golf in Asia. That is important, but not so accurate. The total number of tickets sold for Japan men’s tour last year was 480,000 — for the whole season! That was a drop of 100,000 compared to 2011. It is a smaller number than ONE WEEK of admissions to the PGA Tour Phoenix Open.
Also, Ishikawa won the Taiheiyo Masters last November. It was his first win in two years. However, we counted the gallery on the course, and it was only 4,455 on Sunday. Also, Ishikawa has lost many big-money contracts, including Panasonic and Toyota. (I think it is because many Japanese citizens have come to believe pro golf is dishonest between the ropes.) He has lost his value at the market. He is not our golf pinup boy any more.
Ishikawa will make his season debut at La Quinta next week, but I wonder if he will make the top 125 on the money list. I also question that his appearance will give high TV ratings at the Masters.
Sometimes 21 is no longer young any more.