Teen sensation Ryo Ishikawa is leading Japan's golf money-winning race with his sights firmly set on another title, despite the fact that he has yet to actually win a tournament this season.
Out of the current top 10 prize-money winners on the men's Tour, Ishikawa is the only golfer who hasn't won a tournament this season. He has been steadily accumulating prize money by finishing in the top five and from earning cash at overseas tournaments that can be counted toward his prize money total in Japan. With just nine tournaments left this season, Ishikawa is aiming to claim the JGTO money title for the first time since 2009.
So far this season, Ishikawa has played 14 tournaments on the Japan Tour. His prize-money ranking jumped to the top of the list after he came in second at the Vana H Cup KBC Augusta in August. Through Sept. 30, he had pocketed roughly 69 million yen, about 1 million yen ahead of second-placed Kim Kyung-tae.
Asked how he feels about reaching the No. 1 rank without having won a single tournament this season, Ishikawa sounded confident.
"It's important to be in the running to win a competition," he said. "I think I can win (a tournament) one day and I am prepared for that."
Ishikawa's play has been erratic this season. He has failed to make the cut at four domestic tournaments, but he has also come close to winning several times. He finished second at three tournaments and came in third twice. In addition to placing in the top five six times, he won a total of 12.05 million yen at overseas tournaments that can be calculated as domestic earnings. That's what has helped him reach the top money ranking.
The Japan PGA Tour has been unpredictable and competitive this season, with no single golfer having won two tournaments and eight golfers winning tournaments for the first time. This should be an advantage for Ishikawa.
But this is no time for him to be feeling smug about his lead. Big-money tournaments are looming as the season winds down, and he'll probably have to win at least one of them to nab the title. He's not in his best condition physically, with his signature driver showing a lack of stability in the last two tournaments. But, as always, he remains positive.
"I can feel my golf getting better," he said. "I hope to continue fighting."
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