Friday, January 23, 2009

Special Masters invitation to 17-year-old

rising Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa

Japanese teenage golf sensation Ryo Ishikawa has been issued a special invitation to play in the 2009 Masters, Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne announced yesterday.
The 17-year-old prodigy will become the youngest professional and second-youngest competitor in Masters history when he tees off in the year’s first major on April 9 at 17 years, six months and 23 days.
American Tommy Jacobs, who was only one month and 21 days past his 17th birthday when he played in the 1952 event as an amateur, is the only younger player in Masters history.
“At a young age, Mr. Ishikawa has shown the skill and competitiveness to make him a deserving recipient of this invitation,” Payne said. “We see this as an opportunity to expose an emerging talent on a world stage.
“I am optimistic that his participation in the Masters will inspire younger players and increase interest in golf in Asia and beyond.”
Ishikawa won the 2007 KSB Cup as a 15-year-old amateur, becoming the youngest winner of any event on any world golf rankings-recognized tour. He turned professional last year and won two Japan Tour events.
Ishikawa and 88 others are expected to compete in the Masters, with others still able to qualify by winning a PGA Tour event or reaching to world top 50 in the rankings released in the week before the Masters.



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