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Teen phenom Ishikawa captures money crown

Kyodo News

Shigeki Maruyama got his first win since returning full-time to the Japanese tour at the Nippon Series JT Cup on Sunday, but 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa took center stage as he became the youngest money title winner in Japanese golf history.

Ishikawa finished the 2009 campaign top of the money list with ¥183 million after second-ranked Yuta Ikeda’s hopes of capturing the season-ending event ended at Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club. Ikeda had to win this event to top Ishikawa.

Ishikawa replaces Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki as the youngest money winner on the JGTO tour. Ozaki won the money title at age of 26 in 1973.

Ishikawa finished tied for 19th in the 27-man field at 3-over 283 after a final-round 66, his best round of the week. Ikeda closed with a 72 to share 23rd at 7 over.

“This money title is more precious than any of the other youngest player records I’ve set. I didn’t expect to be this overjoyed,” Ishikawa said.

“When I finished my round on the 18th green, I received a roar of applause I’ve never heard before. I’m so glad that I’ve been playing golf. As for next year, I’m prepared to train harder than this year and continue to move forward,” he added.

Maruyama, a three-time winner on the U.S. PGA Tour, defeated South Korean Kim Kyung Tae with a par on the fourth playoff hole.

The 40-year-old captured his 10th career JGTO title when he sank a short par putt in a repeat of the course’s signature par-3 18th hole after Kim two-putted for a bogey.