Sure, not every American sports fan could pick Ryo Ishikawa out of a lineup, but if you took a second to see the teen sensation play in Japan, you'd think the Beatles were out swinging 7-irons. He's a star unlike any young person is in the world, followed so close by Japanese media that you'd think it would disrupt his early success.
But it hasn't. Not at all. Ishikawa notched a win on Sunday in Japan at the Taiheiyo Masters, his third of the year, and eighth Japan Tour win of his young career. Ishikawa did it by beating the '07 winner of this event with a birdie on the last hole. He is the type of young talent that comes around to the game about every 50 years.
So, should we be concerned that his talent hasn't totally translated outside of Japan?
The short answer is no. He is still just 19, and played in 10 PGA Tour events this season, making six cuts. The talent on the PGA Tour is obviously miles better than that of the Japan Tour, but Ishikawa did finish in the top-10 at the Accenture Match Play, his best finish of the season.
Also, Ishikawa did something a year ago that not many teenagers would be able to do. He played an opening round with Tiger Woods at a major championship, and beat him. As much pressure as Ishikawa might feel to close out wins like this last one in Gotemba, being paired with the most popular golfer in the world just means that Ishikawa is going to be compared endlessly by Japanese writers to Mr. Woods.
He beat him at Turnberry, and has since made three of five cuts at the majors. Ishikawa is going to be a star, and while it may take some time for him to get totally comfortable playing in the States, the more wins he can notch overseas, the better he will become.