While much has been made about Greg Norman's selection of Adam Scott for his International side of the upcoming President's Cup, relatively little attention has been paid here in the US to Norman's other selection -- Japan's Ryo Ishikawa.
Ishikawa turned 18 this week. While the young prodigy has yet to make a splash on the PGA Tour, he has had his moments that show clearly that he belongs among the Big Three Wonder Kids: Rory McIlroy, Danny Lee and himself. All are winners, with Lee boasting a European Tour win as an amateur, McIlroy one as well and Ishikawa with six wins on the Japanese Tour. While some deride the Japanese Tour as being far inferior to the PGA or European Tours, it is nonetheless impressive that Ishikawa has managed six wins on it -- all before his 18th birthday. In fact, when Ishikawa won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup, he became the record holder in the Guiness Book as the youngest winner on a professional tour - 15 years and 245 days. Clearly, Ryo has skills, game and the ability to play well when it matters the most.
And like McIlroy and Lee, Ishikawa has an eery maturity for a young man just coming of age. After missing the cut at this year's Master's tournament, Ishikawa was non-plussed in his press conference following his second and final round. “I want to make an even bigger effort over the next twelve months to be ready to come back next year," he said. "I want to put the fruits of my training to the test here." These are measured words of determination in a moment of great disappointment from Ishikawa, who in his elementary school graduation essay wrote of his dream to win the Masters in his twentieth year, or three years from now.
Of course, he has one major obstacle in his way: one Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, and an entire host of talented and established golf stars, all of whom are capable of winning on the hallowed grounds that are Augusta National. That and the rising ascendancy of his young peers - Rory McIlroy has the best showing in a major so far, with his third place finish in this year's PGA Tournament. Lee has a US Amateur win under his belt, as well -- a major victory by any measure in the amateur ranks. To achieve his schoolboy goal, he has much to overcome, but if the past is any measure, it may be folly to discount the possibility of his dream coming true on schedule.
All of that considered, it makes Norman's choice of Ishikawa a savvy one -- from a golf standpoint, he may well contribute points to his team, and from a marketing standpoint, he will bring the eyes of the Japanese press with him, thus raising the exposure of the President's Cup in the huge Japanese golf market exponentially. For Ishikawa, he will have the chance to grow as a player and once again measure himself against the best America has to offer, which in turn will give him much-needed experience in the highest altitudes of the golfing world.
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