ORLANDO, Fla. – With all of the talk about golf’s youth movement, it’s easy to forget that one of the game’s most recent wunderkinds is still only 22 years old.
Ryo Ishikawa offered yet another reminder Thursday at Bay Hill, where the Japanese star shot a 7-under 65 to sit just three shots off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Ishikawa is a 10-time winner in Japan, but his game hasn’t quite translated on the PGA Tour. In 78 career events, he has mustered only seven top 10s. He finished second earlier this season in Las Vegas, matching his best career finish.
This is something of a home game for Ishikawa, who spends much of the season in Orlando. He lives about five minutes from Bay Hill and practices often here. He also has a U.S. base in Vegas, where he stays during the West Coast events.
Ishikawa has devoted himself to the PGA Tour for the past two seasons – last year he played 23 events – and will play only about five tournaments in Japan, beginning next month after the Heritage.
Ishikawa suffered a back injury about a year and a half ago, which he said stemmed from overuse and also playing other sports (soccer, tennis, running). While injured, he could practice putting and chipping for only about five to 10 minutes at a time, which he believes kept him from contending.
“After the injury,” he said, “I understood how important my body is. Now my body works pretty good.”