Start of year crucial to Ishikawa as he tackles grueling two-tour schedule

ryo ishikawa
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Ryo Ishikawa is hoping to make almost three dozen starts on both sides of the Pacific in 2012.
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012 | 8:30 p.m.

Ryo Ishikawa has never started his season this early, playing in the Sony Open for the first time. It's the start of what figures to be a long year, even by the Japanese star's standards.

Ishikawa is interested in taking up PGA Tour membership. He is one of the biggest draws, especially on the West Coast, and he already has received exemptions to the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, along with the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook.

The first three months are pivotal.

Ishikawa was No. 48 in the Official World Golf Ranking before missing the cut at Waialae. He should be safe for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at the end of February (top 64), but he is not yet in the Masters, and will have to be in the top 50 after Bay Hill to get in.

Along the way, there will be plenty of trips across the Pacific Ocean.

"I'll be going back and forth," Ishikawa said. "It's a hard schedule."

He expects to play about 34 tournaments this year.