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Ryo Ishikawa admires Kim Kyung Tae’s rock-solid game, but believes he can still come from behind to take the title away from the money leader.

“Kyung Tae is an unbelievably strong golfer, and it’s no coincidence he is at the top of the money list,” Ishikawa said at a press conference Wednesday, a day before the first round of the season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup.

“I know he’s been putting in a lot of work for many, many years to reach the level he’s at. But I’ve been devoting my life to becoming a better golfer as well, so there’s no reason not to believe I’ll outperform him this week.”

The 19-year-old phenom sits in second in the money rankings and trails Kim by about ¥29 million. Ishikawa must win the Nippon Series to stand any chance of defending the title.

Even if Ishikawa bags the winner’s prize of ¥40 million, Kim can still become the first South Korean champion on the JGTO Tour by finishing in a two-way tie for second.

“The only way for me to clinch the money title is to win this week,” Ishikawa said. “Since my mission is that simple, I can play with the right mindset. I don’t have to think about anything else but winning.”

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