LA JOLLA, Calif. -- There is a temptation to temper enthusiasm about Japanese prodigy Ryo Ishikawa's potential, given that his World Ranking (49th) is based entirely on his success on the Japan Golf Tour and the quality of depth there relative to the PGA Tour or European Tour.
In fact, it ought to heighten enthusiasm about his future, as the example of LPGA star Jiyai Shin shows us. Shin, 21, is the leading money winner on the LPGA and is first in the player of the year ranking (see Stina Sternberg's Golf Digest Woman blog post here).
Shin, who is tied for the lead at the Samsung World Championship at Torrey Pines here, brought this resume to the LPGA: 23 victories on the Korean LPGA and LPGA of Japan tours (as well as three LPGA victories as a non-member in 2008). She is known at home as "the finals queen," for her final-round prowess (see Ron Sirak's profile here).
Ishikawa, who just turned 18, has won five times in Japan, three times this year alone, and he again is in contention this week at the ANA Open. There doesn't seem much dispute that Ishikawa's talent is manifest. The lesson to take from Shin's success on the LPGA is that, like Shin, Ishikawa is learning how to play on Sunday, indeed, how to win.
When he does finally bring his potential to the fore on the international stage, these experiences will serve him well, just as Shin's victories on a lesser tour provided the impetus for her LPGA successes.
-- John Strege