There is a budding rivalry going on in the ZOZO Championship, and it has nothing to do with golf.
The Japan Tournament is a popular venue for the big names in the sports world. It could be because of the course’s West Coast vibe and edginess, or it could be something simpler: the food.
Nearly every player who spoke to the press before Thursday’s first round was asked questions about Japanese food or spoke about it themselves. After all, we need food, especially after a long trip, so sushi and ramen were on our high priority list.
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP FULL-FIELD TEA TIMES
“It’s been incredible,” said Sahith Siegara ahead of his first start at Zozo on Wednesday. “I left Houston on Saturday morning and got here early Sunday morning. I’ve had great food and I don’t want to leave.”
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, just 35 miles from Tokyo and about an hour’s drive to the capital, has at least one player planning a trip to the 2020 Olympic host city .
Rickie Fowler says, “I had great sushi last night. I think I’m going to have ramen tonight.” If I can get to Tokyo before Sunday, that would be great, but if not, go to Tokyo on Sunday and enjoy being here and make the most of it.”
The popular dish is so tempting that it removes one star from his meal.
After winning his second tour title at the Shriners’ Children’s Open in Las Vegas last weekend, 20-year-old Tom Kim embarked on an international trip and immediately faced a dilemma.
“It’s hard for me,” said the South Korean player. “I’m on a diet now and it’s great to be back in Asia after a long time and to be back in Japan where there’s rice and this and that. So I can cut back on my diet a bit this week. But you have to control it a little.”
Having made his first start to the season at Accordia, Colin Morikawa doesn’t know the language (yet) and is looking forward to connecting with his Japanese heritage through food and people.
“We had a delicious dinner yesterday. We had Japanese barbecue,” said Morikawa. “And it’s hard to eat when you’re really hungry, but I’m really tired. I want to eat, but I want to sleep, but it was a really good dinner.”
Food is the easy part. Morikawa spoke about one of the toughest challenges facing international players this week.
“I think I’ve only been here for about 30 hours since we landed yesterday morning, so it’s been hard trying to stay awake with lots of coffee. I really don’t have that much. I mean, I ate sushi,” Morikawa elaborated.
Traveling within the continental United States is difficult enough. An 11+ hour flight and he adds a 13 hour time difference and things quickly get complicated. The key is finding a routine and sticking to it.
“When you come in on Tuesday morning and tee up on Thursday, you have to figure that out,” Morikawa said. “I’ve probably traveled a few times over the last few years, especially to Dubai, and I’m learning how my body reacts to things like long flights, jet lag, and more. And hopefully it will be a good week.
For Morikawa, who is aiming for his first win since the 2021 British Open, sleep is a top priority when battling jet lag. Luckily, unlike tourism, her diet is a necessity, so the 25-year-old quickly becomes satiated.