Japanese Teen Phenom Awarded Masters’ Invite

Get to know the name Ryo Ishikawa. Say it with me- “RO”, “ISH-E-COW-A”. It’s a name you should probably get used to.

Ishikawa, of the ripe old age of 17 and hailing from Japan, is the latest in a line of golfing prodigies to emerge from around globe and is set to stake his claim on U.S soil very soon. The “bashful prince”, as he is known in Japan, has accepted invitations to the Northern Trust Open this week in Los Angeles, as well as the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook and The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill later next month. But those tournaments will simply be a warm up for Ishikawa because his main event is scheduled for April. Yes, THAT tournament in April.

Following a tradition established by the Masters’ committee in recent years (remember Aaron Baddeley getting an invite as an 18-year old amateur?), the committee has extended an international invitation to Ishikawa in an attempt to, as Masters’ chairman Billy Payne put it, “…expose an emerging talent on a world stage and (to) fulfill our objective to grow the game.”

“At a young age, Mr. Ishikawa has shown the skill and competitiveness to make him a deserving recipient of this invitation.” Payne added when he made the announcement to the press on January 24.

So what skill has this young man displayed that has set him on the path to becoming the second-youngest competitor in Masters history? Well it may be news to a lot of golf fans, but in 2007 Ishikawa won the Japan Tour’s Munsingwear Open KBS Cup as a 15-year old amateur. That victory made him the youngest winner of any professional event on any major tour in the world. Anywhere. Ever.

If that wasn’t enough, since turning pro in 2008, Mr. Ishikawa has won three more times, finished the 2008 season 5th on the Japan Tour’s money list, and become the youngest player to ever crack the world’s top 100 players. He is currently ranked 64 in the world which means if he continues his meteoric rise, he may not have needed any help when the final Masters’ invites are sent out. Not bad for a kid who probably doesn’t even shave yet.

In a world obsessed with unearthing the “next Tiger Woods” it remains to be seen if Ishikawa can become the (more) Asian version of Tiger, or burn too bright and burn out too quick like, say, a Ty Tryon. It’s far, far too early to tell of course, but one Japanese paper has already declared the young man, “more of a genius than Woods!”. They’re not one to hold back on hyperbole apparently, the Japanese.

Regardless of his play in the Masters one thing is for sure, this is one talented young man. And now, thanks to the soothsayers on the Masters’ committee, he’s on the world radar now. You’ve heard the name now, just don’t be surprised if you see it pop up on your TV screen in the next few months.


4 Responses to “Japanese Teen Phenom Awarded Masters’ Invite”

  1. Jerry says:

    With all the new talent coming on the scene,Tiger might feel like He
    was gone 5 yrs.rather then just 8 months.He had better hurry back.


  2. WALTER says:

    Hi Andy, While I appreciate that Ryo Ishikawa looks to be an up and comer. What about New Zealands Danny Lee who is the yougest to win the American Amateur Golf Open last year in 2008. Younger than even Tiger was when he won it. He has the amateur invitation to play in the 2009 Masters, USA, this year and will then turn Pro. Danny was born in Korea so look out. He swears black and blue that he is now a naturalised Kiwi(New Zealander) and lives here after repelling many offers from Korea. All of us from New Zealand wil be cheering him on. He has also been invited to play in the New Zealand Pro Golf Open in March as well alongside Bob Charles, Michael Campbell. Daniel Chopra won this last year by the way.
    Walter Booth

  3. Ted Tsuyuki says:

    The yound Japanese player’s name should be pronounced:

    Re-yo E-she-cow-a

    This is still not exact but the sound of the first name RYO does not have an equivalent in English just as some English sounds do not have an equivalent in Japanese. The last name is very close if you use the pattern shown rather then your version.

  4. Justplainbill says:

    Wow!What next?

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