Ishikawa late arrival for International team

Ryo Ishikawa arrived late because of flight delays.
Yusuke Nakanishi/Zuma Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Ryo Ishikawa was arriving late in Australia for the Presidents Cup, but International captain Greg Norman doesn't expect the Japanese star to have any problems by the time the tournament begins Thursday.

Norman said after the captains' media conference Tuesday that Ishikawa, coming off a ninth-place tie Sunday in the Japan Tour's Taiheiyo Masters, wouldn't arrive until later in the day due to weather problems and flight delays. “There's absolutely no problem with Ryo himself,'' Norman added.

The 20-year-old Ishikawa won his first Japan Tour title when he was 15 and shot 58 last year.

“The great part about Ryo is he's young,'' Norman said. “He can survive the jet lag and survive an overnight flight and get in here. He's a good enough player, he'll have enough information coming his way tomorrow about the golf course. So I'm not concerned.''


BUS BONDING: Greg Norman admitted it was an unusual way to create team unity, but an issue with the International team's bus after dinner Monday may have done just that.

Norman said when the team left a Melbourne restaurant, its bus “bottomed out'' and got stuck in a gutter on a side street. Concerned that the bus might get damaged if it moved with the weight of the players in it, they jumped off the bus and helped direct the reversing bus back down the street to a major road.

That's when the fun began.

“It was an interesting situation where a car was coming up and the guy had his window down and I'm walking up to him doing this (waving arms as if to stop traffic) down the street right and he started winding his window up thinking I must have been coming to take him on or something, I don't know,'' Norman said, laughing.

“He wound up his window and stood and stared right out. And I said, 'Just roll down your window' with a smile on my face, and then he got it and turned around and went back.''

The driver must have been surprised to come across Norman, without a doubt Australia's most recognizable sportsman, playing traffic cop. But there was more.

“We had to back the bus all the way out on the main street,'' Norman added. “K.J. (Choi) was on one side and I was on the other side holding up the traffic. I thought that was a good way to bring a bit of team camaraderie together because it was just spontaneous.''


NO STARS AND STRIPES: Some spectators watching the Americans practice at Royal Melbourne on Tuesday did a double take: the U.S. team was dressed in green and gold shirts – Australia's national colors – to raise money for charity.

U.S. captain Fred Couples said when he and International captain Greg Norman visited the Royal Melbourne course last year, damaging floods were creating havoc around the country.

“I just had this idea of coming here, and hopefully to be quite honest, getting a few Aussies behind us and thinking we are pretty nice to come here and raise some money,'' he said.

“So I got this idea to wear their colors today. Obviously, it's Tuesday. I would never do it during the tournament. We are giving the money to the Australian Football League, their charities.''

Couples will give the 15 practice shirts, which have a small American flag on them, to the AFL, the governing body of Australian Rules football. The autographed shirts will then be auctioned online from Thursday until Nov. 26, with the money given to charity groups for homeless youths and disadvantaged Australians.

“It was just our idea of maybe hoping that we sell all of these clothes and maybe make 25,000 or 30,000 Australian dollars and let the Aussie football league do what they want with it.''

“We teed off early and a few people have noticed and made comments. We took team photos today, and a few players were a little bit mystified on why we are not wearing red, white and blue.''


SUBBING FOR M.J.: Champions Tour player John Cook is no slouch as a replacement for former NBA superstar Michael Jordan as an assistant captain for the U.S. team. Just ask Cook himself.

“Obviously, I can bring more of a golfing type of environment,'' Cook said Tuesday. “Although, I do still have a pretty good jump shot. I can't dunk anymore but I can still shoot.''

Cook, who did well to ever dunk at 6 feet, was a late replacement for Jordan. As owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan couldn't make it to Melbourne because of the continuing NBA lockout.

“I was always pretty curious about Michael being here,'' Cook said. “I think the guys had a great time with him.''

U.S. captain Fred Couples brought the former Chicago Bulls great along to the last Presidents Cup in San Francisco two years ago.