I'll be the first to admit that golf writers can be a little shortsighted at times. You tend to get so wrapped up in the return of a superstar golfer, the shoes he's wearing, and the putter he's putting in the bag that you lose track of a great story like Ryo Ishikawa.
Just 19 years old, Ishikawa has been making waves on the PGA and Japanese Tours for the last few years, becoming the youngest player in golf history to win a professional tournament at the ripe age of 15.
Armed with a powerful, fluid swing and a solid head on his shoulders, Ishikawa has been tearing up the professional tour in Japan for the last four years, but when he's made trips to play Stateside, things haven't gone as expected.
His best finish was a T-20 at this year's Masters, but at just 19, nobody's expecting him to turn into a young Tiger Woods overnight and take the PGA Tour by storm.
Even though his finishes against the best players in the world haven't gone according to plan, that doesn't mean his game isn't headed in the right direction. He fired a 58 in the final round of a tournament in Japan last year, and continues to make major strides with his game.
But as most know, if you want to really validate yourself, you need to win a big tournament abroad. Well, that moment may be upon us. After a 6-under 64 on Saturday at Firestone, he's only one shot back of leader Adam Scott going into the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Not to knock on Adam Scott, but if there's a guy you really should be rooting for tomorrow, it's this kid. Not only is he respectful of his roots and humble about his success, but he's the kind of kid that's willing to give everything to others.
As most already know, Ishikawa agreed to donate all of his 2011 winnings to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims, which is an incredible gesture considering it's coming from someone who hasn't even hit his 20th birthday.
The check for first place at Firestone is $1.4 million, which means Ryo could really help out a lot of people if he were to win this week. There are plenty of reasons to root for him, but this is just another reason why he's the kind of player we need to see succeed on the world stage.
He's got the game and the charisma to be a game-changer in the golf world, and if he can somehow find a way to light up Firestone like a Christmas tree on Sunday afternoon, he would move into the spot right behind Rory McIlroy as the best young player in the game today.
- Ryo Ishikawa
- Tiger Woods