Seventeen-year-old professional golfer Ryo Ishikawa made his U.S. PGA Tour debut at the Northern Trust Open this month. Thirty Japanese media sent more than 100 representatives to the tour to report on Ishikawa. He failed to make the cut, though, and made an early exit from the tournament.
“I don't think we saw him at his best. Maybe he had jet lag," said a U.S.-based journalist. "He must have felt weird being followed by such a huge media contingent."
Japanese media often follow Japanese athletes abroad. A Japanese sports journalist for a newspaper says, “When Ichiro joined Major League Baseball in 2001, lots of Japanese media gathered to cover him, and ignored other players. This put Ichiro in an awkward position within the team.”
Ishikawa has accepted a special invitation to play at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia in April and is also scheduled to tee off at the Transitions Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational both in Florida next month.
There some concerns over Japanese media behavior. Insiders say that everybody thought Ishikawa's participation would be decided by the first week of January. But it wasn't decided until Jan 22. The reason for the delay was the committee's concerns that other foreign media would complain about the behavior of Japanese media, according to insiders.
A golf journalist says, “The majority of Japanese media go back to Japan without reporting the final result of the tournament because Japanese golfers often miss the cut. That doesn't create a good impression of Japanese media among Western media. They say giving press passes to Japanese media is a waste.”
The Japanese media seem to be heating up off the golf course. A TV producer says some female announcers see Ishikawa as a future husband candidate. “In a magazine interview, Ishikawa's mother said her son should have a woman who is fluent in English and older than him. After the magazine was published, young female announcers started showing their interest in golf reporting.”
Many critics say the media should back off and give Ishikawa a chance to develop his game and not cover his private life at all. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto).© Japan Today