Japanese Tiger Turns Pro at 16

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TOKYO -- Ryo Ishikawa has simple goals. The 16-year-old wants to get good grades, improve his distance off the tee and one day win the Masters. Playing with Tiger Woods wouldn't be bad, either.
 
Ishikawa, who last year became the youngest winner of a Japanese men's tour event, announced Thursday he was turning pro and immediately set high standards for himself.
 
'I want to play with Tiger Woods in the future and win the Masters,' he said at a news conference.
 
Ishikawa was an amateur in May when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup, making him the youngest winner of a Japanese men's event. According to the Japan PGA, Ishikawa now is the youngest pro in Japanese golf history.
 
Since winning the Munsingwear Open, Ishikawa has helped to revitalize the Japan PGA, which has struggled against the recent popularity of the women's tour and young stars such as Ai Miyazato, Sakura Yokomine and Momoko Ueda.
 
Ishikawa said he was up to the challenge of balancing school with the pro tour.
 
'I know it won't be easy and I know there will be days when I don't want to do my homework,' Ishikawa said. 'But I'm determined to keep up with my studies and do my best in golf.'
 
Ishikawa's soft-spoken manner and good looks have earned him the nickname 'Shy Prince' in Japan, where huge crowds follow him around at every tournament he plays.
 
At the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in November, defending champion and British Open winner Padraig Harrington played in relative obscurity while Ishikawa had a gallery that could rival only those enjoyed by Woods.
 
After winning the Munsingwear Open, Ishikawa played in seven domestic events with his best finish a tie for 15th place at the Fuji Sankei Classic.
 
Ishikawa is aware that many Japanese golfers have excelled on the domestic tour only to flop on the U.S. and European tours. Hall of Fame golfer Isao Aoki has advised the young prodigy to play as many tournaments as possible overseas and not get discouraged from his losses.
 
'That's good advice,' Ishikawa said. 'Aoki-san told me you learn more from your losses than your wins and I'll keep that in mind.'
 
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