The Japan Golf Tour Organization has imposed a $26,000 fine on golf prodigy Ryo Ishikawa withdrawing from two competitions in August and September. The 19-year-old golfer pulled out from last month’s Kansai Open and the recent Toshin tournament. It is the second time when the youngster missed the Toshin tournament. And while the Japan Golf Tour Organization overlooked Ishikawa’s withdrawal last year, it decided to be more severe this year and fined him for the first time in three years to punish him.
The Japanese who will get special temporary PGA Tour membership next year explained his withdrawals by a sore shoulder and even provided a note from his doctor. But tour officials were not fine with this explanation and decided to enforce the rules of the Japan Golf Tour to teach the 19-year-old a lesson and make an example for other golfers. It did not matter that Ryo Ishikawa enjoys huge popularity in Japan and that his face often appears on billboards and in television commercials. The tour executive director said that even if the Japanese golfer was going to play on the PGA Tour, he would still have to follow Japan Golf Tour rules.
The decision of the JTO might affect Ishikawa’s efforts to encourage donations for the Japanese earthquake relief fund. The golfer himself is donating all his income of 2011 to the fund that was created after a tsunami caused by an 8.9-magnitude quake hit the north-east coast of Japan.
Japanese Tour chairman Tadashi Koizumi declared that they would be much stricter with JGTO members next year to prevent them from withdrawing from tournaments.