Panasonic to stop sponsoring Ishikawa
Japanese golf star Ryo Ishikawa lost his major sponsor when troubled electronics giant Panasonic announced on Thursday it would not renew a deal with him next month.
Panasonic, forecast to book a mammoth $9.6 billion net loss in the current fiscal year in the process of overhauling its business, also said it would stop sponsoring a domestic golf tournament after next year.
Ishikawa, 21, ended a two-year title drought in November when he scored a one-stroke victory at the Taiheiyo Masters. He has yet to win an individual title abroad.
"Our company has supported golfer Ishikawa for five years with the aim of backing young people in their global challenges," Panasonic said in a statement.
"He has established an unshakable status as a top player in Japan and our company's initial aim has been fully achieved."
Ishikawa signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Panasonic in January 2008, eight months after becoming the youngest male winner of a major tour by lifting the domestic Munsingwear Open KSB Cup at the age of 15 years and eight months.
The value of the deal was estimated at 500 million yen ($6 million). Ishikawa has since become a hot marketing property.
The electronics firm also said it would end sponsorship of the Panasonic Open after its sixth annual edition next September as "our company is undertaking various streamlining efforts" to rebuild its business.
Panasonic has also stopped bankrolling women's badminton and men's basketball teams.
The country's economic slowdown has also forced other major companies to reconsider sponsoring golf tournaments. The number of domestic tournaments next year has been cut to 23 from 25.