PGA Tour, with Tiger Woods in tow, tries to win Japan

<pre><pre>PGA Tour, with Tiger Woods in tow, tries to win Japan


INZAI, JAPAN – Yasuo Shiina left his home in Tokyo on Thursday morning to get a spot on the tenth tee of the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, which is about 90 minutes away. Shiina plays about a round a month and watches a lot of golf on TV. But he has never seen Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day up close.

"It is difficult to see such players in Japan," he said Shiina, 51, works for a housing association. "I will be very impressed to see tigers."

Shiina was not disappointed or alone. By the time Woods turned up at 8:40 a.m., the crowds were 10 people deep, including some fans with orange and black tiger themes. The cheers for Woods were as loud as for the favorite sons Satoshi Kodaira (who was with Woods) and Hideki Matsuyama. After Woods got into the first driveway, the crowds crowded like commuters on a rush hour train to follow him down the fairway.

"It was loud, it was very loud," said Woods after his first lap. "The people here in Japan came to support this event and it was great fun to play in front of them again."

The enthusiastic spectators were a happy start to the Zozo Championship, the first Japanese event to be included in the PGA tour schedule. All around 80,000 tickets were sold for the tournament, whose title sponsor, the fashion retailer Zozo, hosted the event for six years. The $ 9.75 million wallet and 500 FedEx Cup points at stake attracted 14 players who have won major tournament titles. One of these players was Woods, who got over a shaky start and shot a six-under par 64 and game Share the tour with Gary Woodland after the first day, Matsuyama ended the day a shot behind.

However, sports like golf and tennis are more driven by individual stars, and Japanese fans love to see the best in their craft, which is one reason why Harada, the sports business professor, believes that PGA tour events in Japan are persistent.

"Ordinary people are not interested in the PGA, they are interested in Tiger Woods," he said. "If a guy like Tiger keeps coming to Japan, the tournament will attract a lot of people."

PGA Tour representative Jay Monahan said Zozo agreed to sponsor the event for six years and he expected Maezawa to continue to play a central role. The tour had no intention of postponing the tournament.

"If we commit to launching a new event, it is a permanent commitment," said Monahan, "and we never intend to leave Japan to always do a PGA tour in Japan from that day on." "