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Ryo Ishikawa gets another Masters invitation

Ryo Ishikawa gets another Masters invitation

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Ryo Ishikawa of Japan is headed back to the Masters with another special invitation.

Augusta National Golf Club said Friday that Ishikawa and Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand have accepted the invitations, which are reserved for international players. It will be the fifth straight year the 21-year-old Ishikawa is playing the Masters. This is his third special exemption.

Thaworn is No. 68 in the world and won the Asian Tour money title last year. He also holds the Asian Tour record for most career victories, winning the Hero India Open last year for his 15th title.

Ishikawa dropped as low as No. 91 in the world late last year before his game picked up. He won the Taiheiyo Masters for his 10th career title on the Japan Golf Tour, part of seven top-10 finishes in his last 10 tournaments of the year. He is No. 75 in the world.

``Through our established qualifications, and invitations to select international players not otherwise qualified, we historically bring together a collection of the world's top players, and this year is no different,'' Masters chairman Billy Payne said. ``The Masters has long established a tradition of supporting the global game, and we were excited to extend invitations to Thaworn Wiratchant and Ryo Ishikawa, who we hope will provide added interest and enthusiasm for golf in Asia through their participation in the tournament.''

Ishikawa is sure to get attention because no other player has received more exemptions over the last 10 years. Ishikawa is a rock star in Japan, however, having won his first tournament as a 15-year-old amateur. But his game went into a deep slump last year, when he missed the cut in the first three majors before a tie for 59th in the PGA Championship.

Ishikawa came under more scrutiny last year when he received an invitation ahead of Ernie Els, who had fallen out of the top 50. Els went on to win the British Open for his fourth major championship.

The special exemptions, however, typically go to players who are not PGA Tour members, and the Masters looks mainly at Asian players because of its television contracts and the rapid growth and interest in golf in the region. That's why it helped to create the Asia Pacific Amateur, with the winner getting a spot in the Masters. This year, the winner was Guan Tianlang, a 14-year-old from China, who will be the youngest player in Masters history.

PGA Tour members have several different categories through which they can qualify, such as winning a tournament, finishing in the top 30 on the money list or reaching the final event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

This might be the last year of an exemption for Ishikawa. The Japanese star has joined the PGA Tour for the first time.

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Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews help lead AFC to victory in Pro Bowl skills competition

Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews help lead AFC to victory in Pro Bowl skills competition

Lamar Jackson was excellent this season finding his receivers across the field en route to an MVP caliber season. 

As it turns out, he’s not so good at hitting targets that aren’t human. 

Jackson struggled in the precision passing event, an event with moving targets labeled from one to five points and scored just two total points on 17 throws. 

But Jackson’s poor performance in the first event didn’t hurt the AFC, as it won the 2020 Pro Bowl skills competition over the NFC.

“A lot of bad throws,” Jackson said of his performance in the first event. “A little wind with me. It’s all good.” 

As soon as the event aired, Jackson immediately took to Twitter.

The events that followed were: The Gauntlet, Best Hands, Thread The Needle and Dodgeball. 

Jackson and teammate Mark Andrews competed in the Best Hands and Thread The Needle competitions. 

The duo’s obvious chemistry resulted in the second-best time, 49.4 seconds, out of four total pairings. 

The next drill was another passing drill called ‘Thread The Needle,’ which Jackson fared better in. He scored 12 total points, tied for the second-best of four passers. The concept of the drill was to throw the ball past a defender guarding a wall with nine targets, each with a corresponding point total.

In the final event of the night, the AFC beat the NFC two games to zero in dodgeball — led by Jackson and Andrews’ division rival, Browns wideout Jarvis Landry.

Jackson didn’t start the night well, but thankfully for him, the next targets with numbers he’ll see will be actual receivers at the Pro Bowl on Sunday afternoon.

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Dolphins GM wants a leader at QB and has 'more than enough' to move up in the draft

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Dolphins GM wants a leader at QB and has 'more than enough' to move up in the draft

The Dolphins hold the fifth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and if things break perfectly, they might be able to select Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with that pick. 

Unfortunately for Miami, things rarely go perfectly for any team in the NFL Draft.

The reality is if the Dolphins want a quarterback, they have very little chance of getting LSU passer Joe Burrow. He will go No. 1 overall to Cincinnatti unless the Bengals are certifiably crazy.

After that come the Washington Redskins. Ron Rivera's new team drafted a rookie QB last year in Dwayne Haskins, and he showed significant growth late in the 2019 season. It seems that the Redskins will take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with the second pick. It seems like an easy decision.

But if Miami is desperate for a QB, the only way to guarantee they get their guy is to get to number two. Detroit has the third pick, New York has the fourth pick, then the Dolphins. 

The Redskins, Lions and Giants don't look to be in the quarterback market, but that doesn't mean other teams won't call them for a trade.

Even the most casual fan knows there aren't enough good passers in the NFL, and while Burrow is the most coveted prospect, don't count out Tagovailoa. He is going to gain immense steam as a draft prospect by late April. Scouts and personnel guys swear by the former Alabama passer as a person and as a quarterback. He's coming off a major hip injury, but the Dolphins have Ryan Fitzpatrick under contract for the 2020 season. 

It's all hypothetical right now, and maybe even a long shot, but the Dolphins GM knows he has the ammunition to move up from the fifth pick if needed. 

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier spoke at the Senior Bowl this week and said his team has "more than enough" options in the draft to get their quarterback. Miami has three first-round picks this year - Nos. 5, 18 and 26 - along with two second-round picks. That's plenty of capital if Grier decides his team needs to move up. 

And it sure sounds like Grier wants Tagovailoa.

"He’s been a winner. The fact that he won the Elite 11 and he goes to Alabama and has the storybook, coming off the bench in the national championship. Everyone always talks about his accuracy," Grier said via The Miami Herald. "Talk about the person, as well. The intangibles that we talk about. Looking forward to getting to meet him."

The only way for Miami to guarantee they get Tua is to trade into the second spot. Nobody knows what QB-needy team could trade into the third spot. And Grier knows that. 

It's also important to point out that Grier added what most around the NFL know: In the time before the draft there is "a lot of misinformation" out there. 

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