on December 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Ishikawa becomes Japan’s youngest million-dollar man

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese schoolboy Ryo Ishikawa became the youngest player to win 100 million yen in a season on Japan’s professional tour at the Casio World Open on Sunday.

The 17-year-old, already one of Japan’s biggest sporting celebrities, finished tied for 13th to pass the “million dollar” barrier and shatter Shigeki Maruyama’s record.

Ishikawa reached the milestone nine years quicker than Maruyama, who was 26 when he passed 100 million yen ($1.05 million) in prize money during the 1995 season.

“It’s a relief to get over that mark,” Ishikawa told reporters. “I could have got injured or disqualified and never got there.”

Ishikawa is fifth on Japan’s JGTO Tour money list with 102 million. Shingo Katayama, known for his colourful cowboy hats and belts, tops the order of merit with 178 million.

Ishikawa won his first tournament as a professional golfer earlier this month at the ABC Championship. He turned pro at the start of the year.

Widely regarded as the saviour of the flagging JGTO Tour, Ishikawa shot to fame in May last year as he became the youngest winner on the Japanese tour at just 15 years and eight months.

His pearly white grin has already made him one of the most photographed celebrities in Japan and he is projected to earn at least $10 million in the next few years alone.

That figure is set to sky-rocket after he leaves school and has more time for the endorsements which have begun flooding in since last year. (Reporting by Alastair Himmer; editing by Rex Gowar)