Ishikawa headed for pro debut

Kyodo News

Teen golfing sensation Ryo Ishikawa left for Australia on Monday for his professional debut in next week’s British Open qualifying tournament.

“I can’t wait to go out there (Australia) and I felt it was a very long way coming here to Narita airport,” said Ishikawa, who at 16 years and 3 months became the youngest pro in Japanese golfing history earlier this month.

Ishikawa described his preparations for his upcoming professional debut as “nearly perfect” as he gears up for the 36-hole tournament to be held in Sydney on Feb. 5, from which the top four players win spots in this year’s British Open.

“I’m happy that I’m going to an English-speaking country. It’s something that not many of my classmates can experience and hopefully I’ll get used to English as much as I can,” he said. “As for my pro debut, I’m feeling nothing special, really. I just want it to be a wonderful memory for me.”

Ishikawa stunned the golfing world by becoming the youngest winner on the men’s top-tier professional tour when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup last May aged 15 as an amateur. The victory gave him an exemption from the JGTO tour through the 2009 season while opening the way for him to turn pro.

Earlier in the day, Ishikawa and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. announced a five-year sponsorship deal between them worth an estimated ¥500 million.