March 30, 2011
There are people that step up during crisis situations, and people that step up, and for victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, they can look at young Ryo Ishikawa to be leading the latter group.
Ishikawa, just 19 years old and a Japanese professional golfer, announced on Wednesday that he will be donating all of his 2011 prize money to victims of the natural disaster that devastated Japan on March 11. That means that Ishikawa will probably be donating over $1 million, a number people estimate Ryo will win if he has a solid second full season on the PGA Tour, especially since a season ago he earned 151 million yen ($1.8 million) on the Japan Tour alone to go along with his $149,180 in the states.
Why has Ishikawa decided to do this, besides the obvious reasons that he is from Japan and wants to help out any way he can? He has told Japanese press that he feels the extra motivation to play well will help his game, and give him a reason to really grind out every round. If you think about the magnitude that each week could carry for Ishikawa, you have to think this is a huge win-win for everyone in Japan. First, they'd be getting a hefty sum of relief money headed their way, and second, they'd get to see their young star turn into a global icon if he starts to finish high or even win some elite events on the PGA Tour.
It also says a lot about who Ishikawa is. Just 19, he always seemed way ahead of his years. He wasn't intimidated the first time he was paired with Tiger Woods in a huge event, and even beat him. He has notched nine professional wins on the Japan Tour, and shot a final-round 58 last year to win The Crowns.
You have to stand back and applaud a kid with this much charity under his sleeve. If you aren't openly rooting for Ishikawa to play well next week at Augusta, I don't know what to tell you.
(Also, just a reminder, if you feel like donating to the tragedy, swing over to Red Cross site and drop them some bills.)