What they said: Ryo Ishikawa

March 21, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

Courtesy ASAP Sports.

JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Ryo Ishikawa into the interview room here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He's making his fourth start at this tournament, and he's now a special temporary number on the PGA TOUR.

Welcome back to Bay Hill. If we can just get your comments on your expectations for the week.

RYO ISHIKAWA: Once again, I'm grateful I was invited to this tournament. The last three times, my results were not so good. So this time around, I'd like to show Mr.Palmer my best playing. And the course is, as always, in perfect condition. So I will just do my best this week.

Q. Now that you're a temporary member, will you be adding more tournaments once the Japan season starts over here??

RYO ISHIKAWA: After the Masters, I play events in Japan. And over here in the States, the U.S. Open and the World Golf Championships events maybe I'll be playing. But I don't have a detailed schedule yet.

Ideally, this week and the Masters, if I play good, I can make it in the 125 money this year. That would be my ideal scenario but for now, I would like to concentrate on this week and the Masters.

Q. I realize you have not been playing golf as long as Arnold Palmer, but I wondered what's the biggest equipment change you have seen since you started playing golf? What's the biggest improvement?

RYO ISHIKAWA: I think clubs and balls, they evolved in a big way. But when I started playing golf, it was already metal heads, titanium heads, and not really balata balls; I belonged to that kind of generation. Maybe the evolution of equipment has made golf a little bit easier; but did it make it more interesting is maybe the question. Maybe those times when Persimmon heads and balata balls were being used, things might have been more interesting. I wonder if I can go back 50 years ago and if I could see how it's like, that would be very interesting.

Q. How much did getting that special exemption into the Masters take some pressure off you trying to qualify and maybe help you in Puerto Rico, and how much, also, do you still want to stay in that Top� 50 at the end of this week and not have to use that special exemption??

RYO ISHIKAWA: My big goal was to make it to the Masters being ranked inside the Top-50. When I received an invitation from the Masters committee, I was very happy. But even after receiving the invitation, I'm still trying to be within the 50 of the World Ranking, and to do so, I may have to finish around 10th this week.

For that, I will try my hardest and my best this week.

Q. Another question about the Masters. I know none of those holes are easy, but in your opinion, what is the hardest hole at Augusta National??

RYO ISHIKAWA: For me, the 11th hole would be the one when I stand on the tee box, the whole scenery is quite something. It is a dogleg right, and yet the fairway slopes from right-to-left. So in that sense, the landing area is very narrow and difficult.

But at the same time, this hole and the entire Augusta National, playing this course, I feel it's very fun and interesting. So that's the beauty of the Augusta National course.

Q. Rory became No. 1 at Honda, and he said that his rival is the golf course. I wanted to get your comment on that. And not necessarily being U.S., but if there's anything in the golf course, the architect or condition� wise that you don't see in Japan.

RYO ISHIKAWA: I feel the same way as Rory. Maybe especially in golf, when I play in stroke play, paying attention to your playing companions's play, maybe if you play 72 holes, maybe just one or two holes, maybe the finishing holes. So in that sense, I'm playing the golf course, and also, I'm playing against or with myself.

If I have two personalities in me, one is a very confident one, and the other would be an uncertain one. When I play golf, the confident one, certain self, should be winning against my uncertain self.

There are so many differences in setups here in the States than Japan. Maybe the biggest difference when I play over here is that the course may be helping me mature, grow as a golfer player. Maybe that's the biggest difference.

And of course, in Japan, as you know, property is limited, so courses are built accordingly. Over here, it's built accordingly to the United States in a big, big� sized property. So it's only natural that they are very different. But when I play over here in the States, I feel the course is helping me grow as a professional golfer, and I feel that sensation the most in the States.

Q. Do you ever see a day where you'll play 20 times in the United States and you'll be mostly a U.S. player with occasional tournaments in Japan, or what do you see two, three, four years down the road??

RYO ISHIKAWA: Well, long term, yes, it's my dream to be playing the majority of events over here. But it wouldn't happen in the near future, because the Japanese Tour helped me to reach where I am, and the Japanese professional golf system helped me, too. So I'm really grateful for what I have in Japan and the Tour.

So, the answer is, no, not in the near future I'll be playing full� time over here. However, for physical reasons, the time difference and geological differences, distance-wise, for my physical state, I think it's better to stay over here and play here. That would be the ideal situation. But in the near future, no.

Q. Do you have a house in the United States??

RYO ISHIKAWA: Right now, no.

Q. Do you feel more pressure to play here, now, than you did when you were 17 and first came to Riviera, Tampa, the Masters.

RYO ISHIKAWA: Well, in the last three years, everything really developed, evolved smoothly for me. I think the courses in the States helped me big time for that.

And the pressure, it is my fifth year on the Japanese Tour, so it is only natural that they expect some results, and big ones, of course. So in that sense, yes, but first and foremost, I think the process is more important than results. After the process, results may follow, so I don't think about the result that much. And in that sense, I'm not feeling pressure that much.

Q. It was just announced a structure and schedule change on the PGA TOUR. Do you have that already factored in this year's planning??

RYO ISHIKAWA: Yes, I am aware of that change, that upcoming change. And this year, since I'm given this chance to play more, I'd like to play well and I'd like to concentrate on playing well here.

The players, some are for the change, some are not. But, you know, for the bigger, wider, bigger acceptance of golf, I'm for it.

I'd like to make the most of the chances I get this year.

Q. And the second question was, next year, things will get a little bit tougher in the sense of obtaining a TOUR card, so some might feel playing more over here this year might be a better.

RYO ISHIKAWA: No, just for that purpose, I'm not playing more events over here. It is important to obtain a TOUR card and do well here, but that's not my goal. My goal is my golf. The important thing is to play better golf, is my goal. And until August, September, I may have to travel back and forth, so I have to take care of my body.

Q. Is there anybody that you want to imitate swing technique� wise, who would that be and what point??

RYO ISHIKAWA: I think Rory McIlroy's swing, especially from downswing to finish, the speed of the turn, is very, very enviable. And if I could swing like Rory, maybe the ball flies straighter. I think his swing is very interesting.

Q. You were here for the AJGA boys when you were 13, and you were on Sea Island, as well, for the AJGA back when you were 13, 14. So from your point of view when you were that age, what did America look like to you back then??

RYO ISHIKAWA: When I was in junior high, a freshman, played this course and on the 18th hole, I hit driver and driver. So my impression of this course was very, very long course, and this was the longest course I played back then.

When I played in Arizona, Thunderbird event, Morgan Pressel won. And among my peers back then, Fowler, Peter Uihlein, those were the big names. And I made a lot of friends, too.

Well, if I haven't had these experiences, maybe my play hasn't been as aggressive as I play now. So these events back then taught me that pars may not be good enough.

JOHN BUSH: Ryo, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.