Ryo Revival: Ishikawa Gets A Long Awaited Win & A British Open Entrée

Relentlessly Stylish Ryo           photo: callawayapparel.jp

At first glance, age 22 would seem preposterously young to be talking about relaunching a career, but for some of today's professional golfers, the concept is not so far fetched. They take up the game as children and achieve early success; winning on increasingly important stages, collecting ever more impressive trophies and piling up precocity records. 


Youthful achievers fascinate fans, and as a result they often inspire the proverbial "media frenzy", which brings with it the prospect of lucrative sponsorship deals. 


But precipitous fame can be distracting, and a global golf career implies an exhausting travel schedule. Then comes the inevitable winless spell.

The stretch can last a year or two… or ten… it can come after multiple major wins or a handful of tournament victories, but either way, it's a burden for the player to bear. Once the long awaited win finally comes we hear the word relaunch… even when the player in question is implausibly young. 
This is certainly the case for one of our favorite golfers… a golfer we've written about on many occasions: Japan's Ryo Ishikawa.

As a 15 year old amateur… in his first tour appearance… he won the Munsingwear Open KSB and became the youngest ever to win on the Japanese Men's Tour.   From there, his rise was meteoric; Ryo Ishikawa was soon being called Japan's Tiger Woods and hailed as the face of golf in Japan.

The ensuing years brought multiple wins on the Japan Tour, and in 2008 the newly christened Bashful Prince became the youngest player ever to reach the top 100 of the Official World Golf rankings, in 2009, the youngest ever to reach the top 50.  MORE –>

READ MORE >>>

Ryo Ishikawa Has A Birthday… and Earns His 2014 PGA Tour Card

Several years ago he was known as the Bashful Prince, a talented teenage golfer who stormed to the summit of fame in his native Japan and delighted fans everywhere with his sweet, shy smile.

Ryo Ishikawa played his first PGA Tour events in 2009.  Trailed by a constant crowd of Japanese journalists, his abilities impressed many as he lit up the fairways with a whimsical candy-colored wardrobe.

Expectations for the precocious phenom were stratospheric. By the Spring of 2010 more than a few golf scribes were looking for one of golf's alliterative young guns… Rory, Rickie or Ryo… to quickly become that mythical entity known as "the next Tiger".  In retrospect those predictions seem somewhat silly; here we are in waning months of 2013 and Tiger's just captured both the PGA of America's Player of the Year Award and the Vardon Trophy… for the 11th and 9th time, respectively. Even the most committed Tiger detractors seem to accept that we probably won't see "the next Tiger" any time in the forseeable future. Ever.

READ MORE >>>

The Travelers Championship: A Connecticut Golf Tradition

Travelers Championship – Fans at the 18th   (© Golf Girl Media) 

It’s the third week in June and numerous golf fans are undoubtedly experiencing an anual period of post-US-Open-Malaise right about now.

After all, the season’s second major is now history, the days will soon be getting shorter, and summer… which doesn’t even officially begin till Wednesday… already seems to be waning.

Here in Connecticut however, we’ve got the perfect antidote to that yearly hangover; it’s called the Travelers Championship and it’s an event that nutmeg state golf fans… such as myself… look forward to all year.  Our state’s biggest sporting event has a colorful history and charitable tradition, with benefits that extend well beyond this yearly week of golf festivities.

 Women’s Day at the Travelers (© Golf Girl Media) 

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Travelers Championship took place on the first tee box at TPC River Highlands this morning, celebrating the tournament’s 60th anniversary and launching the week of fun filled activities that lead up to Sunday’s final round. The field is impressive, to say the least. Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson… who hit a stellar third round 68 at the Olympic Club on Saturday… will be there, along with past champions like Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan. A bunch of awesome internationals will be making their first appearance in Cromwell including Ryo Ishikawa, Angel Cabrera, Camilo Villegas and Louis Oosthuizen and a very newly minted major champion by the name of Webb Simpson.  Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh are also among the multitude of major champions competing in Connecticut this week. 


We’ll be spending some time up in Cromwell later this week and I’m quite sure we’ll have some fun stories to share.  In the meantime you may want to check some of my posts from past Travelers Championships and check out the following links for additional tournament info:

Travelers Championship 2012 Schedule of Events
Travelers Championship 2012 Field of Players
Travelers Championship Tournament Charities
Travelers Championship on PGATour.com
The Travelers Championship on Facebook
The Travelers Championship on Twitter

Ryo Ishikawa on Marrying Young, Juggling Golf and Family

Ryo Ishikawa (Photo by Issei Sakakibara)

In the final installment of “Straight Talk With Ryo“… his revealing column for The Asahi Shimbun… Japan’s top golfer discusses his decision to “get married early“.

As you may remember, news broke last year that the once Bashful Prince had gotten engaged to a former Junior High School classmate, creating something of a media frenzy.

In this remarkably honest piece the Japanese champion reveals that as far back as 2007… when he was just 15-years-old… he was becoming aware the eventual challenges of creating a quality family life in the intense world of professional golf.

Ryo Ishikawa is only twenty but he displays, in his column, the “maturity-beyond-his-years”, that we’ve witnessed since he won the Munsingwear Open five years ago, becoming the youngest winner ever on the Japan Golf Tour .

The legendary Ishikawa integrity does not however preclude a romantic spirit that also comes through in his writing.  When explaining his decision to marry young he says, simply “I’ve always felt that my fiancee is the only woman I could imagine marrying”.

We’ll be seeing a lot of Ryo Ishikawa on this side of the Atlantic in the coming weeks. A schedule that includes this week’s Crown Plaza Invitational, The Memorial Tournament, the Fedex St. Jude Classic and The US Open at The Olympic Club, will give the newly-fianced golf star and his bride-to-be a kind of dress rehearsal for what the future might hold.

The final stop on this US swing will be the Travelers Championship here in CT where we’ll be looking forward to see our favorite golfer competing at TPC River Highlands for the first time.

Thank you again Noriko Imano for your unique insights… and if you’d like to read more about Ryo, we’ve got a lot.

Ryo Ishikawa on Marrying Young, Juggling Golf and Family

Ryo Ishikawa (Photo by Issei Sakakibara)

In the final installment of “Straight Talk With Ryo“… his revealing column for The Asahi Shimbun… Japan’s top golfer discusses his decision to “get married early“.

As you may remember, news broke last year that the once Bashful Prince had gotten engaged to a former Junior High School classmate, creating something of a media frenzy.

In this remarkably honest piece the Japanese champion reveals that as far back as 2007… when he was just 15-years-old… he was becoming aware the eventual challenges of creating a quality family life in the intense world of professional golf.

Ryo Ishikawa is only twenty but he displays, in his column, the “maturity-beyond-his-years”, that we’ve witnessed since he won the Munsingwear Open five years ago, becoming the youngest winner ever on the Japan Golf Tour .

The legendary Ishikawa integrity does not however preclude a romantic spirit that also comes through in his writing.  When explaining his decision to marry young he says, simply “I’ve always felt that my fiancee is the only woman I could imagine marrying”.

We’ll be seeing a lot of Ryo Ishikawa on this side of the Atlantic in the coming weeks. A schedule that includes this week’s Crown Plaza Invitational, The Memorial Tournament, the Fedex St. Jude Classic and The US Open at The Olympic Club, will give the newly-fianced golf star and his bride-to-be a kind of dress rehearsal for what the future might hold.

The final stop on this US swing will be the Travelers Championship here in CT where we’ll be looking forward to see our favorite golfer competing at TPC River Highlands for the first time.

Thank you again Noriko Imano for your unique insights… and if you’d like to read more about Ryo, we’ve got a lot.

The 2012 Travelers Championship – A Lot to Look Forward To

Red umbrellas were everywhere yesterday at TPC River Highlands. It was media day for the 2012 Travelers Championship and a light rain fell on the hills and valleys of central Connecticut, making the insurance company’s iconic logo particularly apropos.

The tournament’s defending champion Frederick Jacobson spoke about winning his first PGA Tour title almost a year ago and surmised that the event’s timing… just after US Open week… makes it more relaxing than most. Among today’s top golf stars, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan … world number four and five, respectively… have also captured their maiden PGA Tour wins at TPC River Highlands.

The tournament, which this year turns 60, is all about giving back.  With 100 percent of net proceeds going charity, Connecticut’s biggest sporting event has donated over to $30 million thus far. Tournament director Nathan Grube spoke about this focus… and about the entertainment experience a visit to the Travelers Championship provides, not only for golf fans, but also for those not familiar with the game.  That’s something I’ve definitely noticed over the past several years as more and more non-traditional golf activities… for children and adults… have been incorporated into the event.

The course at TPC River Highlands is laid out over a bucolic slice of undulating Connecticut countryside and features what two time winner Stuart Cink called “four of the most exciting finishing holes in the world”.  Playing there yesterday afternoon… even in the chill gray mist of spring… I could feel the excitement of the many Sunday’s I’ve spent at the fan-friendly venue during the championship. (A steady supply of coffee… laced with ample quantities of Baily’s… added requisite warmth).

An awesome field of players has already committed, including… for the first time… GGD favorite Ryo Ishikawa.  I’d been hearing rumors from my friends in Japan, and was happy to have them confirmed in Cromwell yesterday.  We’ll be writing more about the 2012 Travelers Championship in the weeks to come.  In the mean time keep up-to-date on the latest news, get ticket info and peruse photos and videos of past tournaments at travelerschampionship.com

Ryo Ishikawa’s Engagement Defies Demographic Trends

When he arrived at Tokyo’s Narita airport on Sunday, Ryo Ishikawa wasn’t dwelling on his disappointment over a missed Master’s cut, choosing instead to tell the gathered media of his recent engagement.

I got engaged last month, to a junior high school classmate,” revealed the 20 year old Japanese superstar, without mentioning her name.  Rumors of a Ryo romance first surfaced several months ago and speculation has been rife ever since, but the identity of the fortunate future WAG is still a mystery.

The Japanese press have described her only as “a tall, slender beauty with long black hair”.  No photos were released, though it seems she was in fact, in Augusta for the Masters last week, and at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational prior to that, and was introduced a number of her fiance’s close friends.

I’m now 20 years old, so I decided the time was right” Ishikawa told reporters without elaborating.  In Japan, age 20 does hold a special significance as the year one officially comes of age, however the average marrying age in Japan is significantly old than that… 30.5 for Japanese men and 28.8 for Japanese women… and those demographic statistics are a source of concern for many of the country’s economists, who worry about the subsequent declining birth rates and aging population.

For Japan it’s a continuing conundrum that began quite a while ago.  One look at a chart representing Japan’s birth rate over the past several decades makes that clear.  It resembles an ultra-treacherous black diamond ski slope, particularly as it’s coupled with substantial increases in Japanese longevity.

The crisis is often attributed, at least in part, to the fact that young people are choosing to get married later… or not at all.   And the government has tried everything from cash incentives to policies that provide more support for working parents. They’ve even gone so far as to develop a government dating site to help those unable to find Mr./Mrs. Right… and in what is perhaps the cutest/coolest initiative: robot babies.

Getting back to Ryo Ishikawa, he’ll be competing at the Token Tado Country Club in Nagoya, Japan this week for the Japan Golf Tour’s Token Homemate Cup.  As for his recent announcement though many in the media are writing jokingly about legions of disappointed female admirers, I’m guessing that those saddled with the task of coaxing Japan’s birth rate higher were delighted weren’t unhappy to hear that one of the country’s top role models has decided to marry so young.

Fans can congratulate Ryo on his engagment at his Panasonic site.