Distracted Japanese players will play on
Thursday, April 7, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ryo Ishikawa unsuspectingly left the 18th green on Thursday having carded a grind-it-out, 1-under 71 to put himself in position at the Masters.
He quickly signed his card and met with the media behind the 18th green, using interpreter Masaki Chiba to help translate the session. He was peppered with questions about how difficult it was to play Thursday's round knowing that another earthquake, this one a magnitude 7.4, had hit Japan on Thursday morning.
Ishikawa didn't know.
He took a moment to collect his thoughts, visibly stunned by the news.
But this is the same 19-year-old who recently announced that he would donate all of his 2011 winnings to help those from the first Japan earthquake. Whom would he call upon returning to the clubhouse?
"I have some friends in Tohoku area, so I hope I can contact them," said Ishikawa, who had four birdies, including three on the front nine.
Asked what his playing well Thursday, and the rest of the week, would do for Japan, he was confident in what he could do.
"I understand that people, especially in Sendai, they are living in hell, and I would love to show the energy and power of what golf can bring to those people," Ishikawa said.
Ishikawa wasn't the only Japanese player on the course on Thursday, with Hiroyuki Fujita finishing in the group before Ishikawa.
Fujita, whose family is with him in Augusta this week, doesn't have much family near the epicenter of Thursday's earthquake, but he knows that a victory this week would lift spirits among his countrymen.
"I think I'm just happy that whatever I do and how I play will encourage people in Japan," said Fujita, who shot 70.
Two other Japanese, amateur Hideki Matsuyama (72) and Ryuji Ikeda (74), completed play later in the day.