SportGolf

Ryo Ishikawa hopes victory in Hokkaido can revive his career

Former Japanese wonder boy claims first title since November 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 11:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 11:30pm

Once hailed as Japan's Tiger Woods, Ryo Ishikawa has vowed to relaunch his stuttering golf career after ending a title drought stretching back almost two years.

Ishikawa shot to fame in 2007 by becoming the youngest winner on Japan's JGTO Tour at 15. He earned the nickname "bashful prince" for blushing shyly under the glare of the media and of legions of fans - many of them housewives previously uninterested in golf.

His coyness quickly evaporated as he went on to capture eight more tournaments from 2008 to 2010. The victories catapulted him to celebrity status in Japan and earned him vastly more money off the course in endorsements than on it.

My swing was where I wanted it and I put the ball where I wanted to. I hit some world-class shots when I needed to
Ryo Ishikawa

Victory in Sunday's play-off against Komei Oda at the Sega Sammy Cup arrested a winless run dating back to November 2012 and gave the record-breaking Ishikawa an 11th career title.

"Hopefully, now I can break through at the world level," said the 22-year-old Ishikawa, who joined the US PGA Tour in 2012 as one of the hottest properties in world golf.

"My swing was where I wanted it and I put the ball where I wanted to. I hit some world-class shots when I needed to."

Ishikawa, known for his trademark bubblegum pink shirts, credited countryman Hideki Matsuyama, also 22, for reigniting his hunger for the game following the slump.

Matsuyama, less windswept and glamorous than his rival, won his maiden PGA Tour title in Ohio last month.

"His win made me realise stuff," Ishikawa told the Nikkan Sports daily.

"I was feeling the pressure of getting immediate results and just kept making superficial adjustments. I have been driving longer and hitting more greens but my shots haven't been world-class.

"I need to work to catch up with Hideki and win titles in America as soon as possible."

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