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Pro, amateur golfers rally despite poor weather conditions

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The International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) held the fourth ISPS Handa/Handa Watch World Cup on Nov. 5 and 6, at the Toyosato Golf Club in Ibaraki Prefecture.

On both days, professional players and amateurs teamed up in groups of four so that everyone could enjoy playing and communicating with the professional players during the rounds. The total purse was ¥15 million per day and first place was awarded ¥3 million.

Under perfect blue skies on the first day, 48 male and 29 female amateur players set out to play 18 holes with 34 professionals.

On day one, Chun In-gee from South Korea, Lexi Thompson from the United States and Naomichi Ozaki from Japan tied for first place.

Despite bad weather on the second day, 99 players altogether including 29 professional golfers enjoyed playing before large galleries. Unfortunately, the match was halted on the 11th hole due to heavy rain.

Paula Creamer from the United States, who teamed up with ISPS Chairman Haruhisa Handa, Hong Kong actor and martial artist Yuen Biao, and ISPS U.K. patron Peter Mark Andrew Phillips, said in a press interview after the match that bad weather conditions are part of golf and she enjoyed the game, as well as the encouragement from the galleries and cheerleaders.

As a committed philanthropist herself, having established a charitable foundation in the United States, Creamer said that she is honored to be part of the activities of ISPS to bring happiness to the world through sports.

“Golf is a small, but big sport through which we can have connections with the world,” she said.

This year has been a year of changes for Creamer. Due to injuring her left wrist and undergoing surgery in October last year, she was not able to hit the links until a few months into this year. She also changed coaches.

Minjee Lee from Australia won the second day, with Lydia Ko from New Zealand, Charley Hull from England and Victor Dubuisson from France as runner-ups.

To mark the beginning of the awards ceremonies that were held on both evenings, Handa walked onto the stage dancing and leading a group of samba dancers to welcome and celebrate all who attended the event.

After introducing the patrons, guests and major players, Handa said that he was delighted to see ties and friendships expand through golf. “Sports bring peace, equality and happiness,” he said.

“Professional golf players are diplomats on lawns,” Handa said, referring to the friendly ways that many of the top players interact with their fans and other players.

He hoped that younger players learn from how world-class players behave in international settings, which would give them broader choices in the future, leading to the promotion of sports as a whole.

At the same time, he explained that some of the participating golfers from overseas shared the same impressions of Japanese galleries — polite and respectful.

In addition to ISPS, Handa also chairs the International Foundation for Arts and Culture that aims to support social welfare activities and fostering of young artists through organizing music and art events.

The most recent achievement of the IFAC was the “17th Tokyo Dai Takigi Noh,” an outdoor fireside noh performance held on Sept. 23 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s Citizen’s Plaza in Shinjuku.

He is also the chairman of the Tokyo Art Foundation that organizes various concerts and plays several times a year.

Misuzu Corp., also run by Handa, is opening a new watch shop, Handa Watch World Sendai Tanabata Watch Store in Sendai this month.