Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia can never be anonymous at a PGA Tour event, but they were able to go about their business in relative peace Tuesday as fans at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson gravitated toward Tiger Woods's first public round of golf in eight months. Not so for Ryo Ishikawa, the Japanese phenom who has a dozen or so Japanese photographers documenting his every move.
The 17-year-old Ishikawa isn't even playing in the tournament--he's an alternate at 67th in the World Rankings--but he's got a larger press corps than anyone here but Woods. And when the two of them posed for a picture on the practice green following Woods's morning round, the scene resembled a rugby scrum with photographers surrounding Woods and Ishikawa from all sides and pushing them across the green. It dissipated quickly enough, but was enough of a commotion for a security guard to wonder, "How did that happen?"
Ishikawa happened. As The Telegraph U.K. reported last week, the Northern Trust Open had twice as many media requests to cover Ishikawa's U.S. debut last week as they had for Tiger's last appearance at Riviera Country Club in 2006. After Woods's practice round, a Japanese reporter asked Woods what advice he would give Ishikawa. His answer: Don't believe the hype.
"Just because people are writing about you and talking about you, as my dad always said, that's never hit you a high draw, a low fade or holed a putt," Woods said. "I hope he does well going forward. He's done great so far, just an unbelievable start to his career, and hard to believe he's only 17."

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