Ryo Ishikawa’s incredible feats on the Japan Golf Tour have left the sporting world shaking their heads in amazement.

At just 18, Ishikawa finished as Japan’s top money-winner, to take his place alongside two of the game’s genuine legends – Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods. And he actually went one better than them.

Ishikawa became the youngest player to top the money list on one of golf’s major Tours, beating the record set by Ballesteros, who was 19 when he won the first of his six Order of Merit titles on the European Tour in 1976. Woods was 21 when he topped the US Tour money list for the first time in 1997, and has gone on to win 14 Majors, while Seve was a Major champion five times.

Any doubts over whether Ishikawa has the game and the charisma to join those greats in golf’s Hall of Fame were surely banished by his exploits in 2009. After starting the year in style by inspiring Asia to a first Royal Trophy triumph over Europe – a feat he will hope to repeat in Thailand from 8 – 10 January 2010 – the young Japanese star proved unstoppable.

The golfer affectionately referred to as “Hanikami Oji” – the Bashful Prince – proved his dazzling success in the previous two years was just the start of an incredible adventure. When he exploded onto the scene by winning the 2007 Munsingwear Open KSB Cup at the age of 15 years and 8 months – the ever youngest winner of a top tier event – some golf observers feared Ishikawa might just be a ‘flash in the pan’.

But after turning professional in 2008 he showed his first win was no fluke by capturing the mynavi ABC Championship. And by the end of the year he had become the youngest ever player to reach the top 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Ishikawa dominated the Japan Golf Tour in 2009, winning four times, and breaking through into the world’s top thirty. Alongside his four victories, he almost won the biggest tournament held in his native country, the Japan Open. He finished level with Ryuichi Oda, but was denied his biggest win so far when he was edged out on the second hole of a play-off.

And Ishikawa is already an international superstar. That fact was underlined at the British Open when he was drawn to play alongside Woods. The all-star pair attracted massive galleries at Turnberry, and Ishikawa handled the spotlight superbly.

That would have come as no surprise to anyone who witnessed his Royal Trophy debut, when he thrilled the huge crowds who flocked to see Asia complete a memorable 10-6 triumph.

Ishikawa will come into the fourth edition of the Royal Trophy with much greater experience and confidence, acquired by playing for the first time in the US PGA Tour, joining the world’s best at Augusta National for the Masters and playing under the great Greg Norman in the President’s Cup – where he emerged victorious in the final day’s singles over world number eight ranked player and American Ryder Cup star Kenny Perry. 

The outrageously popular young man will carry a huge responsibility and the expectations of the Asian Continent on his shoulders as he makes his way through the dangerously narrow Amata Spring Country Club fairways. But he will also encounter the fantastic opportunity of being one of the key drivers behind the Asian Continent’s mission to achieve what seemed completely impossible only a couple of years ago – defeating the European masters of team match play golf two consecutive times.

“Ryo Ishikawa showed great confidence and maturity at the third edition of the Royal Trophy;” said the Royal Trophy Managing Director, Lincoln Venancio.

“He is still very young but is clearly capable of coping with the pressure extremely well. He seems to thrive when representing the Asian Continent in the Royal Trophy;” added Lincoln Venancio.

The fourth edition of the Royal Trophy will take place on 8-10 January 2010 at the exclusive Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand. The Championship will feature a series of sixteen matches including the foursomes, four-ball and singles formats. The Principal Award for the winning Continent is stewardship of the perpetual solid-silver sixteen-kilogram Trophy, graciously donated by the world’s longest reigning Monarch – His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Royal Trophy is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited and is organized in Thailand by Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd.

The Royal Trophy - Europe vs Asia Golf Championship
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