Watson, 60, tries to learn from Ishikawa, 18
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - It is definitely not true, the idea that there are no low numbers at a U.S. Open. The age of Ryo Ishikawa, 18, is really a study in going low.
The prodigy who shot 58 in the final round to win an event on the Japan Tour this year is 1 under par through two rounds of the Open.
"I was trying to learn something from him," said Tom Watson, 60, who won the 1982 Open at Pebble Beach and played the first two rounds with Ishikawa and 21-year-old Rory McIlroy. "I always try to learn from somebody who does something better than me."
Watson loves the way Ishikawa putts confidently and forcefully at the back of the hole. "That's the way I used to putt, just like that," the former champion said.
Ishikawa's shot par 71 to follow his 70 Thursday. "My feeling is 'go for it,' " he said. " 'Challenging' means something to me, especially in outside-Japan tournaments. It doesn't mean anything if I don't challenge things."
Ernie Els, 40, who is tied with Ishikawa at 1 under par, was a Presidents Cup teammate of Ishikawa last year. "He's extraordinary," Els said. "He's a great kid. Just think about it, shooting 58 on the tour over there in Japan at 18. It's phenomenal."
Matt Bettencourt, who tied for 10th at Bethpage last year, birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th, a stretch that Watson said his father called the hardest three consecutive par- 4s in golf . . . Zach Johnson took 9 on the par-5 14th when his chip shots to an elevated green kept rolling back to his feet . . . Rafael Cabrera-Bello, the Spanish golfer who had visa and lost-clubs problems, had a tap-in birdie 2 on the difficult 17th.