Ishikawa thinks big but won't quit Japan

(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-15 13:24
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TOKYO: Record-breaking Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa has no plans to ditch his country's golf tour after becoming its youngest order of merit winner.

Ishikawa thinks big but won't quit Japan
Ryo Ishikawa of Japan tees off on the second hole during the 2009 HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 5, 2009. [Agencies] 

The 18-year-old Ishikawa, who won four titles on Japan's JGTO Tour this year, has already turned his attention to the US Masters in April but insisted moving overseas was not yet in his thoughts.

"Topping the order of merit was a dream I couldn't dare imagine before the season started," Ishikawa said. "It's an honor to be ranked alongside some of the game's greats."

"My goal now is to make the cut at the Masters," said Ishikawa, already one of Japan's biggest sporting celebrities.

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"It's a lifelong dream of mine to actually win the Masters but I honestly do not know if I can commit to playing full-time overseas."

Ishikawa, widely regarded as the savior of the flagging Japanese tour, shattered Jumbo Ozaki's previous order of merit record by eight years.

The achievement also came three years sooner than similar honors for world No 1 Tiger Woods, who first dominated the US PGA Tour's money list as a 21-year-old, and Seve Ballesteros, who was 19 when he topped the European Tour's order of merit.

"I don't think about my age when I'm playing golf," said Ishikawa. "I don't feel it's a factor. I'm not competing against my age."

Still a schoolboy, the teenager is set for life as the endorsements keep flooding in but he has promised he will get better after making his major tournament debut this year.

"I played in some very tough settings," said Ishikawa, who missed the cut at Augusta in April in his first major appearance. "The British Open and PGA Championship in particular."

Ishikawa also failed to make the cut at the British Open but qualified for the weekend at a major tournament at the US PGA Championship.

Woods, who has announced he will take an indefinite break from golf in the wake of an embarrassing sex-scandal, remains the benchmark for Ishikawa.

"It was great to play with him (at the British Open) and see the way he tees his ball up and hits shots," said Ishikawa. "It's had a big impact on my game for sure."