The 19-year-old phenom from Japan, who is one stroke out of the lead entering the final round at Firestone Country Club, has pledged to donate every bit of his winnings this season to victims of the earthquake and tsunami in his homeland. So far, through prize money and a special promotion involving his birdies and eagles, he has raised nearly $1 million, and has a chance to give $1.4 million with a victory Sunday.
So many people will be rooting for him and others will be admiring him. "That's an incredibly generous gesture from a young man," said Adam Scott, who is a 12 under, and leads Ishikawa by one. "It probably inspires a lot of other people to give generously. That's the point of giving, I guess."
Scott, who first met Ishikawa when the latter was 15 and said that the golfer's scrutiny at home possibly eclipses the attention Tiger Woods gets here, added, "To see that from a young man like Ryo is fantastic. He should be proud of himself, and Japan should be really proud of him."
Ishikawa won a pro tournament in Japan at 15, and is on the verge of his first big breakthrough in the U.S. "You feel that sense of loneliness, playing out there, being away from where you were born," he said through an interpreter. "I look at it as the people back in Japan are watching me.
"As far as the tsunami relief goes, Japan is still in a devastating situation. There are people who have no homes right now, and we actually don't know how long it's going to take for Japan to recover. So I would just like to give my support to Japan," he said.
It might require a double take for people to recognize him, now that he has cropped off most of his once long, unruly hair. Why the new look? He said, in English, "Too hot."