Notes: Ishikawa counting on majors

Ryo Ishikawa is No. 91 in the world this week.

Ryo Ishikawa is No. 91 in the world this week.

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Ryo Ishikawa didn’t come close to qualifying for the U.S. Open when he missed by five shots in a qualifier in Japan. The 17-year-old sensation still has not secured a spot in the British Open at Turnberry.

But he can count on a start in the PGA Championship, which offered him an exemption two weeks ago.

The Masters also gave Ishikawa a special foreign exemption, and he missed the cut. Augusta National has the most exclusive field among majors, and a long history of inviting international players.

The PGA Championship had its own motives: it wants the strongest field.

Ishikawa is No. 91 in the world this week, about 10 spots lower than when he was awarded the PGA exemption. Kerry Haigh, the managing director of championships for the PGA of America, said two victories and his school were two reasons.

“For a 17-year-old to have won two tournaments is almost unprecedented,” Haigh said Tuesday. “Obviously, he has great potential and ability, having moved into the top 65 of the world when he was invited.”

Actually, Ishikawa was No. 65 in February when he nearly qualified for the Accenture Match Play Championship. Still, it is not uncommon for the PGA to offer exemptions early to players inside the top 100 as it strives for the strongest field in golf.

Haigh said the fact that Ishikawa is not finished with high school also was considered.

“It was our understanding he has schooling issues,” Haigh said. “He needs some time to plan accordingly. We felt an invite earlier would allow him to plan his travel schedule in the summer and not affect his schooling.”

Ishikawa made only one cut in four starts in America, finishing 71st at the Transitions Championship in Florida. He did not make it to the weekend at Riviera, Augusta National or Bay Hill.

• • •

PINK POWER: John Daly wore his pink pants on Sunday at Wentworth, while Rory Sabbatini went with a pink shirt when he won the Byron Nelson Championship, both sartorial choices to honor Phil Mickelson’s wife, Amy, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now, the PGA Tour Wives Association is getting involved.

In a memo being circulated at Colonial, the group is asking all players and wives to take part in a “Pink Out” on Saturday by wearing pink to show support for Amy Mickelson.

The association is working with title sponsor Crowne Plaza and the Susan G. Komen Foundation to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Mickelson is the defending champion this week, but he has taken an indefinite leave from the PGA Tour. He is home in San Diego, awaiting test results this week to determine the extent of the cancer.

• • •

PEREZ GOES DOWN WITH THE DOG: What Pat Perez described as a “mishap” could keep him off the PGA Tour until after the U.S. Open. Perez wrote on his Web site that he tore two ligaments in his ankle while running with Duke, his German shepherd.

“He went one way, I went another and somehow missed the curb and wrecked my ankle,” Perez said. “Definitely not the best time for this to happen as we have the British Open and U.S. Open qualifiers around the corner.”

Perez pulled out of the Byron Nelson and Colonial, and said he likely wouldn’t play Memorial. He usually doesn’t play the St. Jude Championship, and he is not eligible for the U.S. Open. That means he likely won’t return until the Travelers Championship in Connecticut at the end of June.

Doctors are recommending he take it easy, which appears to be a tall order, even though he’s in a cast up to his knee.

“I don’t do too well with ‘down time,’ ” Perez said.

• • •

OPEN EXEMPTIONS: Brian Gay narrowly missed out on the Masters and the U.S. Open through the world ranking, but he can count on at least one major this year.

Gay, Charles Howell III and Charley Hoffman secured spots this week for the British Open at Turnberry as the top three players not already eligible who were inside the top 20 in the FedEx Cup standings.

It will be the first British Open for Gay since 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Robert Rock, Thongchai Jaidee and Louis Oosthuizen earned British Open spots from a similar category in Europe.

• • •

LPGA FINALE: The LPGA tour is going ahead with its season-ending Tour Championship without Stanford Financial. The tour said Tuesday that the LPGA Tour Championship will be played at The Houstonian Golf & Country Club on Nov. 19-22.

What remains puzzling is the 120-player field with limited daylight in Houston that time of the year.

The field will be cut to the top 70 and ties after two rounds, then cut to the top 30 players after the third round. The purse is $1.5 million, which is only $240,000 more than first prize at the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour.

• • •

DANNY DOES DALLAS: Six weeks after he turned pro, Danny Lee has some new digs.

The South Korean-born, New Zealand-raised teenager said Sunday that he has bought a house in Las Colinas, Texas, site of the HP Byron Nelson Championship where he tied for 12th. He said the TPC Four Seasons Resort will serve as his home course.

Lee said he had played the course only one time before last week.

“It’s a great city, Dallas, and I really like it over here,” he said.

The 18-year-old Lee, the youngest player to win the U.S. Amateur, said his parents would be living with him. He was asked how he had begun furnishing his new home.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “That’s my parents’ job.”

• • •

DIVOTS: U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee tied for 12th at the Byron Nelson Championship, pushing his earnings to $152,967 in his quest to avoid Q-school. But a four-putt on the 18th was worth more than money. It knocked him out of the top 10, and cost him a free start at the St. Jude Championship in two weeks. ... Curtis Strange had hip surgery and will be out of action on the Champions Tour, although still able to do TV work at the U.S. Open and British Open. ... The World Cup has moved up by a few months to July 3 the deadline for qualifying to give players more time to decide if they want to go to China over Thanksgiving.

• • •

STAT OF THE WEEK: Fred Couples shot in the 60s all four days at the Byron Nelson Championship, the first time he has done that on the PGA Tour since he was runner-up at the Memorial five years ago.

• • •

FINAL WORD: “He is too young. Still a long way to go.” — Masters champion Angel Cabrera on 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa of Japan.

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