By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Ryo Ishikawa has taken up special temporary membership on the PGA TOUR for the remainder of the 2011 season. That means he may accept unlimited sponsor's exemptions for the rest of the year.
The 19-year-old from Japan has played in 10 PGA TOUR events this year and has earned $577,136 – the bulk of that coming two weeks ago at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational where he tied for fourth. Ishikawa earned $473,136 at Firestone.
Since his earnings are greater than the player who finished No. 150 on the money list a year ago, Ishikawa became eligible for Special Temporary Membership.
To join as a fully-exempt member next year without going to qualifying school, Ishikawa needs to earn enough money to be equal or be greater than the player who finished at No. 125 on this year's PGA TOUR money list.
Billy Mayfair currently owns that spot with $538,493. But there is one event remaining in the TOUR's regular season, four events in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and four events in the Fall Series.
Ishikawa is not eligible for the Playoffs but he can play in the Fall Series. The player who finished at No. 125 a year ago earned $786,977.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Greg Norman is scheduled to meet with prospective members of his Presidents Cup team on Tuesday at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Something tells us the Shark will be feeling pretty darn good, too, after the success of the international players at last week's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Australia's Adam Scott, who idolized Norman as a kid, took the dominating victory, winning by four shots at Firestone Country Club. Jason Day, Scott's 23-year-old countryman, and Ryo Ishikawa, the 19-year-old phenom from Japan, tied for fourth while Kyung-taw Kim finished in a three-way tie for sixth.
Day leads the Presidents Cup standings while Scott jumped from fourth to second and Kim moved up one spot to No. 5. Ishikawa, who was one of Norman's two Captain's Picks in 2009, now stands 11th, a jump of two spots.
The top 10 in the U.S. and International Team standings at the end of the BMW Championship (Sept. 18) automatically qualify for the biennial matches, which will be held Nov. 17-20 at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Norman and U.S. Captain Fred Couples will complete their teams with two picks a week later.
"You want to try and get as many Aussies on that team as we can, I think," Scott said Sunday after his victory. "It's good for our team, and Greg has just got to be happy seeing a few of the guys playing in form at this point in the year. Obviously Jason is playing great, does every week. But Greg is looking to finalize his team now, so I'm really glad I'm on it and not in the position I was in last time."
Scott, who will play on his fifth Presidents Cup team in November, joined Ishikawa as a Captain's Pick for the matches at Harding Park in San Francisco two years ago. The top 10 international players currently hail from three countries -- Australia (2), Korea (3) and South Africa (5).
Asked whether he would like to play Tiger Woods in Singles,
Scott took the high road. Woods' long-time caddy, Steve Williams,
now works for Scott.
"I'm not asking for that at all," Scott said. "If that's how it falls, I'm up for it, absolutely. But I think it would probably come down to strategy at that point. It depends what the situation is. But I think the Internationals really need to win this Presidents Cup."
The U.S. owns a 6-1-1 record in the matches. The lone International victory came at Royal Melbourne in 1998.
Woods currently stands 24th in the U.S. rankings but Couples said last week he would pick the former world No. 1 if he doesn't grab one of the 10 qualifying spots. Rickie Fowler made the biggest move among the Americans -- jumping from 19th to 11th with his tie for second at the Bridgestone Invitational.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- If Ryo Ishikawa should go on to win the biggest event of his young career at Firestone Country Club on Sunday, the 19-year-old would be eligible to immediately join the PGA TOUR.
And it could happen. Ishikawa starts the final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational tied for second with Jason Day, trailing Adam Scott by one stroke.
If he wins, Ishikawa would need to take up membership by Monday to participate in the FedExCup. He would not get FedExCup points for the Bridgestone Invitational but could earn them at the PGA Championship and the Wyndham Championship in hopes of making the Playoffs.
Should Ishikawa win and opt not to take up membership for 2011, he can still join the TOUR each year within 30 days after the last official prize-money tournament for the remainder of his three year exemption (2012-2014).
But there are other avenues to the TOUR open to Ishikawa, even if he doesn't win. Ishikawa likely needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to earn enough money to qualify for special temporary membership.
The teenager from Japan currently has earned $247,636 in PGA TOUR events this year. He needs to top $563,729 -- which is the amount earned by the player who finished No. 150 on the 2010 TOUR money list -- to become a special temporary member and be eligible for unlimited sponsor's exemptions the rest of the season.
Should Ishikawa qualify and take up special temporary membership, he could potentially play in the Wyndham Championship and the Fall Series events -- but not in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Ishikawa, who is already entered in the PGA Championship, has 60 days to take up special temporary membership once he qualifies.
Then if Ishikawa earns enough money in 2011 to equal or exceed the the amount of the player who finishes 125th on the TOUR money list, he could join as a member for 2012 -- without having to go to qualifying school. He has 30 days to join after the Children's Miracle Network Classic is over.
Adam Scott will tee off in an hour from now -- presumably with the lead as he’s up by one at the moment -- and when he does he’ll do so having put up some impressive numbers through the first three rounds.
For example, he’s made just four bogeys (or worse) compared to 16 birdies (or better). In 176 previous starts on the PGA TOUR, the Aussie has never putt up those sorts of stats through three rounds. The closest he came was 15 birdies or better and three bogeys or worse at the 2003 Deutsche Bank Championship. How did Scott fare there? He won.
On a side note, two others -- Jim Furyk in 2001 with 16 and three and Tiger Woods in 2000 with 19 and four -- have posted similar numbers. Furyk finished second that year, while Woods won.
As for Ryo Ishikawa, who is in that final group with Scott, has averaged just 24 putts per round so far. That ties the low in this category through three rounds of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. The two other players Ishikawa matched were Fred Funk in 2003 and Lee Westwood in 2000.
AKRON, Ohio – The relief effort for the victims of the Japanese tsunami stands to get another boost on Sunday if Ryo Ishikawa can continue his finel play at Firestone Country Club.
The 19-year-old teenager has pledged all his earnings this year, as well as $1,200 per birdie, to the relief effort. Ishikawa starts Sunday’s final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in a tie for second, one stroke behind the leader, Adam Scott.
The winner of the Bridgestone Invitational will earn $1.4 million while the runner-up receives $840,000. Ishikawa’s current donation to the relief effort stands at $927,375.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- You can bet that Greg Norman, who captains the International Team for the Presidents Cup, will be watching today's final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational with great interest.
The top three players on the leaderboard -- Adam Scott, Jason Day and Ryo Ishikawa -- are expected to be playing for Norman in November at Royal Melbourne when the matches are renewed for the ninth time. Day, who is 23, currently leads the standings while Scott is fourth and Ishikawa is 13th. The top 10 after next month's BMW Championship automatically make the team and Norman has two Captain's Picks.
"What I am seeing on the leaderboard of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational this week illustrates once again how the pendulum of golf continues to swing in a global direction," Norman said. "Take for instance, the development that has taken place with Ryo since he blasted on the scene leading up to the 2009 Presidents Cup and the emergence of a "new star" in Jason Day, with his very impressive climb up the ladder of the world rankings, ... to a veteran and "old boy" of this trio Adam Scott, who seems to have found his competitor level and skills that propelled him into the top five in the world at one stage."
Day, who finished second at the Masters and the U.S. Open, will be playing on his first Presidents Cup. The 31-year-old Scott has played in four Presidents Cups while Ishikawa, who is 19, made his debut in 2009 at Harding Park when he joined the Aussie as one of Norman's Captain's Picks.
"I have been very open about my thoughts and opinions on the fact that the game of golf has truly gone global again, reminiscent of the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s," Norman said. "With the domination of Northern Ireland, England, South Africa, Argentina and Europe over the past few years, and now, this week the other side of the world is stepping up to the plate and rightfully so.
"I love seeing where the game is right now with the quality and character of players. In the long run, the rest of the world elevating their game will serve as a stimulant for the Americans to elevate their games in an attempt to regain the domination they once had. Professional golf is the healthiest it has been in a long time and with that, it is in a great place."
The United States owns a 6-1-1 record in the biennial matches with the lone American defeat coming at Royal Melbourne.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- It's a big oxymoron, but Jason Day doesn't care.
He plans to play "conservative aggressive" on Sunday during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Day enters the final 18 holes tied with Ryo Ishikawa at 11 under and trailing his good friend Adam Scott by one stroke.
The 22-year-old, whose wife Ellie is from Akron, picked up his first PGA TOUR victory last year at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He's come close this year -- posting seven top-10s, including a tie for second at the Masters and solo second at the U.S. Open – so Sunday once again will dawn full of potential.
"I've learned from the past if I go out and try and attack the course, I make mistakes and I get frustrated," Day said. "And when I get frustrated, I don't win tournaments. I think I'm going to just go out there and just give my preparation 100 percent before each shot, and then whatever happens after I hit the ball happens.”
“I can't control what happens. I'm just going to go out there and give it 100 percent."
Day, who leads the International standings for the Presidents Cup, got off to a rollicking start Saturday when he made a 12-foot eagle putt at the second hole. He added a 20-footer for another at the fifth hole before dropping out of a tie for the lead when he made consecutive bogeys at the start of the back nine.
The slide didn't last long, though. Day made three birdies in his last four holes, draining a 34-footer at No. 15, a 13-footer at the 16th and moving into a share of second with a 7-footer at the 18th.
"I actually felt like I hit it pretty good today," Day said. "I know someone is going to ask me about my driving (hitting 6 of 14 fairways), but I felt like I drove it actually pretty well. They were solid drives. It's tough to hit the fairways here. I'm very happy where I am right now."
"Obviously got off to a great start, eagling 2, and then hit the brakes a little bit on 10 and 11. But other than that, I needed something to happen in my round, and obviously holing the putt on 15 kind of did that for me. And I birdied 16 and came home and birdied 18, which was nice."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- Ryo Ishikawa remembers seeing Tiger Woods on the putting green earlier this week and saying hello. Wood’s response?
"'Why did you cut your hair?'" the Japanese teenager recalled Saturday with a smile.
And Ishikawa's answer? "Too hot here. Too hot," he said, giving a rare answer in perfect English after shooting a 64 that left him one shot off Adam Scott's lead with one round remaining in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
The 19-year-old Ishikawa, who sported curls at the British Open where his black hair is now close cropped, is 18 holes away from his breakthrough win in the United States. He already has 11 wins around the world but just one top-10 24 previous PGA TOUR events.
Despite his lofty position on the leaderboard and the potential for a career-defining win on Sunday, though, Ishikawa didn't want to get ahead of himself. He preferred to dwell on his bogey-free performance in the third round.
"I think it's a little too early to think about winning this whole thing as of now," he said through an interpreter. "But I do feel that I was able to play at a pretty good level, pretty high level today. Actually I am a little bit surprised of how I performed out there.
“There were times where I had to do some trouble shots, hitting out from the woods, but when I was able to make those recovery shots, there were some really warm claps and all from the fans. So I was very happy to be out there today."
Ishikawa leads the field in putting after the 24 he used on Saturday brought his total through three rounds to just 72. He hasn’t been as steady off the tee, hitting just 21 of 42 fairways this week, but he did managed 12 greens in regulation on Saturday.
Ishikawa, who is donating his earnings this year to the tsunami relief effort in Japan, said a tie for 20th at the Masters was a big confidence boost and made playing in the U.S. “fun.” He has yet to win in Japan this year but he’s been runner-up twice and third on two other occasions.
“I think the golf that I'm playing right now is unstable in a sense,” Ishikawa said. “And so considering that, I'm not really sure as to how I will perform tomorrow to be honest with you.
“Right now what I'm focusing on is out on the field. Instead of going in there telling myself that I need to compete, I look at it as going out on the practice field and taking practice swings, so that has been my theme as of now.”
AKRON, Ohio – Keegan Bradley seized sole possession of the lead with an 8-footer at the sixth hole.
He's 11 under now through eight holes and is one stroke ahead of Jason Day. Bradley got up-and-down from just in front of the green at the par-5 second for his first birdie and added another birdie putt of 11 feet at No. 5.
Day also got his round off to a strong start when he eagled the second. The Aussie made a birdie at the fifth hole, as well, and has just made the turn in 2 under.
Bradley started the third round at 8 under and tied for the lead with Adam Scott, Ryan Moore and Rickie Fowler. Scott is now tied with Ryo Ishikawa at 9 under while Fowler has just made his first birdie of the day after opening with consecutive bogeys.
Moore also had back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 4 and 5, and he just added another at No. 8. He's dropped back to 5 under, as a result, and is tied for 14th.
AKRON, Ohio -- Ryo Ishikawa is making a nice move up the leaderboard which is good to see for a variety of reasons.
Ishikawa, who has made three birdies and no bogeys on Saturday, now stands 8 under and tied for fourth, three strokes behind Keegan Bradley. He has played eight holes.
The winner of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational receives $1.4 million.
And one more sidelight -- if Ishikawa should go on to win on Sunday, he would be exactly one week older than the youngest winner in PGA TOUR history. Johnny McDermott was 19 years, 10 months and 14 days old when he won the 1911 U.S. Open.