The announcement Wednesday that Japanese prodigy Ryo Ishikawa will make his PGA Tour debut at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club next month already has tournament officials scrambling to find a way to accommodate the Japanese media throngs expected.
The PGA Tour has informed them to expect as many as 200 requests from Japanese media outlets. The number conceivably is low.
Ishikawa is only 17 and has never played in a PGA Tour or European PGA Tour event, yet he already is ranked 60th in the world and is among the most heralded young athletes in Japan history. In the summer of 2007, a few weeks after winning a Japan Golf Tour event as a 15-year-old amateur, Ishikawa played for the first time in the U.S., in the Callaway Junior World Championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego, an event covered by as many as 100 Japan media outlets.
"I've never seen anything like it before and likely will never see it again at an amateur event," said Rick Schloss, who handles media relations for both the Junior World and the PGA Tour's Buick Invitational. "We had nearly 100 media during his first round. I remember being on the first tee at Torrey Pines and looking around and I couldn't believe how many media were there. For a junior tournament."
Ishikawa's nickname is the Shy Prince, prompting the San Diego Union-Tribune to dub the mania surrounding him, "The Prince and the paparazzi."
-- John Strege