Youngest person to win a Japanese Golf male tournament
22] TOKYO: A 15-year-old Japanese boy has become the youngest person
to win a major golf tournament here, charming a public dazzled by
a series of teen sporting sensations. Ryo Ishikawa, previously an
unknown amateur, on Sunday earned the red winner's jacket of the
Munsingwear Open, his first competition in a professional tour.
High school student Ryo Ishikawa dons the winner's red jacket
after victoy in Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. Photo: AP The
surprise victory by the slim high school student graced the front
pages of major newspapers and sports tabloids Monday, with television
networks calling him a new "prince" of the Japanese golf world.
"Feat by the 15-year-old," ran a headline in the Sankei Shimbun.
"Ishikawa charges to overwhelm the pros," said another headline
in the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. "An unknown boy with 300-yard
driver shots and handsome smiles achieved a prodigious feat that
shakes the world of golf," said the Nikkan Sports tabloid. "New
Hero!" declared the Nikkan Sports, while the Sankei Sports went
even further, calling Ishikawa "More of a genius than Woods!"
Japanís Ryo Ishikawa holds the trophy after winning
in the Munsingwear Open golf tournament at Tamano, western Japan
on Sunday. / AFP
Ishikawa, who admires Tiger Woods, started golf
at age six by going to a practice range with his father, a bank
employee. He kept playing golf with his father and said his experience
as a sprinter for the track-and-field team of his junior high school
helped him build the leg muscles needed to play better golf.
"It was a dream round," said Ishikawa, who
finished at 12-under 276. "I just kept trying to make birdies."
"There were only about 15 people -
all people I know - watching me at the start," he said.
"I want to play against the world's
best players. I want to be like Tiger Woods."
The previous record was set by Spain's
Seve Ballesteros, who won the 1977 Japan Open when he was 20.
Ishikawa, a 15-year-old former national
junior high school champion, shot a 6-under-par 66 in the final
round for a one-stroke win over veteran Katsumasa Miyamoto in his
first tour appearance
With the victory, Ishikawa set a new record
as the youngest person to win a Japanese male tournament, previously
held by Spanish world golf hall of famer Severiano "Seve" Ballesteros,
who won the 1977 Japan Open at the age of 20.
"Tiger Woods, whom I watched on TV
when I was in around fourth grade, is my ideal. The style of golf
that I need to play is an aggressive one," Ishikawa said after his
victory. Ishikawa's rise comes amid a barrage of other teen athletes
who have captivated the local media and public in various sports,
ranging from baseball to figure skating.
Among the most prominent teen
athletes here is 16-year-old figure skater Mao Asada, a silver medalist
in this year's world championship, who has wowed the nation with
her jumps and smile.
Sources: AFP, AP, Reuters