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Ryo Ishikawa excited by Open qualification

Teenage sensation Ryo Ishikawa will become one of the youngest professionals to compete in the British Open when he plays in golf’s oldest major next month.

The 17-year-old from Japan secured his place in the July 16-19 event at Turnberry, Scotland with a three-shot victory in the Yomiuri Classic on Sunday.

“I’m thrilled to have qualified for the Open,” Ishikawa told the championship’s official website on Monday. “There were some tense moments but it all worked out in the end. I’m so excited.”

Ishikawa, a household name in his homeland, became the second-youngest player to compete in the U.S. Masters when he received a special invitation to play at Augusta in April.

Joining him at Turnberry will be New Zealand’s David Smail, who was second at the Yomiuri Classic, and Japanese pair Tomohiro Kondo and Kenichi Kuboya.

Yuta Ikeda and Koumei Oda also booked places at the Open as the leading two players, not already exempt, from the Japanese order of merit.

Nicknamed the ‘Bashful Prince’ because of his unassuming demeanour, Ishikawa shot to fame in May 2007 when he became the youngest winner on the Japanese tour at 15 years eight months.

His victory at the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on a remarkable debut shattered the previous record held by Spain’s Seve Ballesteros, who won the 1977 Japan Open aged 20 years seven months.

Ishikawa’s marketability gave the tour a boost at a time when sponsorship and interest were on the wane.

He won his first tournament as a professional in November at the ABC Championship after joining the paid ranks at the start of 2008.

Last year he became the youngest player to win 100 million yen ($1.05 million) in a single season on the Japanese tour.


June 30, 2009

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