LUSS, Scotland – Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa will be thrust into the limelight when he partners with Phil Mickelson and Camilo Villegas in the first two rounds of this week’s Barclays Scottish Open.
The star draw is further confirmation of the global appeal of the 18-year-old Ishikawa, who made his Open Championship debut alongside Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood last year.
Even though he has recently dropped out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Ishikawa, nicknamed the “Bashful Prince,” is tipped for a huge future in the game.
Amazingly, Ishikawa already has seven Japan Tour victories to his name – the first came when he was only 15 – and in May he shot a 12-under 58 to turn a six-shot deficit into a five-stroke win at The Crowns.
Ishikawa, who missed the cut by two at Turnberry in 2009, said of his 58: “I don’t know if I can do it again this week, next week, one year after, 10 years after or never. I just know that I have to make the effort and try every day.’’
The Scottish weather is something he still has to come to terms with, though.
“One moment, you can be playing in shirt sleeves and be too hot; the next, you have long sleeves and it is very cold,’’ he said.
“Links golf is different to playing the courses in Japan. Playing the ball off the hard ground is very different, but it’s good for me.’’
Mickelson needs a top-2 finish to knock Woods off the world No. 1 spot after spending more than 250 weeks of his career in second.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell plays his first tour event since his U.S. Open triumph, alongside South African Charl Schwartzel and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, winner of the French Open on Sunday.
Late entry Ernie Els of South Africa, meanwhile, tees off with last year’s U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and Spaniard Alvaro Quiros.