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March 25, 2009

Ryo Ishikawa


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Ryo Ishikawa to the media center. He's playing in his third PGA TOUR event this week. Earlier today he had a chance to meet Mr. Palmer.
If you would start off and give us some general comments about being at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and your thoughts about meeting Mr. Palmer this morning.
RYO ISHIKAWA: Hello, everyone. Okay, I have been in Florida for two weeks now, and I've found that orange juice tastes great, and hamburger. So I'm enjoying America.
I'm so honored when I received Mr. Palmer's invitation to this tournament. It is going to be my lifetime treasure.
I just met Mr. Palmer this morning. It was my wonderful memory, and it's hard to explain how I feel at the moment. But I could feel he's warm-hearted person just shaking hands.
Now, I've played two PGA TOUR events, and I realize how difficult it is to make the cut. But at the same time, I got used to -- I got used to the atmosphere. So I hope to play my golf this week and make the cut again.
Thank you for your attention.
MARK STEVENS: We'll take questions now, and we have a couple microphones and we'll need you to speak into those, please.

Q. How do you enjoy all the attention you get from the media and fans?
RYO ISHIKAWA: It's been two years since I won the first Japanese event, and since then I've been talking with a lot of Japanese media, and I've just recently gotten used to it.
So media always reports about my performance, and I play sometimes good but sometimes bad, and sometimes when I play bad, sometimes I feel I don't want media to report about my performance in detail. But overall I'm very happy that media reports well on my performance on a daily basis.

Q. I was told that you were here about four years ago in the AJGA HP Boys' Championship. I was just wondering if you can recall some of the moments from that event, and also your English has gotten better I'm sure since four years ago, and in terms of let's say golf handicap from 36 to 0, I'd like to get how your handicap is in terms of English.
RYO ISHIKAWA: Four years ago when I played at this course, for example, I'd say my handicap in English is 36, but right now probably 30, so not so big improvement.

Q. How did you feel at that event back then? How did you play and what was that like?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I recall that I saw the alligator on the 17th hole, which was a first time for me to see the alligator, and I'm kind of surprised that alligator is on the golf course.
I remember almost all the holes, but especially I hit driver for the second shot on the 9th hole and the 18th hole.

Q. I think your English is very good. My question is each day how many hours do you study?
(Asks question in Japanese.)
RYO ISHIKAWA: (Giving thumbs up) Very nice.
This time I brought an English textbook, but I practice hard on the golf course, so I actually take a rest at the hotel. But I try to read newspapers, which is, I think, good studying for me, and sometimes I've found new words and I check the dictionary and try to memorize that.

Q. We have seen you play, and there is a lot of charisma and a lot of things that are very appealing about your image. We're just curious about what is your team? Who is behind you? Who is your sports person and who is taking care of all these aspects, because we have seen that golfers usually become later like a big enterprise. So who's your team?
RYO ISHIKAWA: Firstly, since I started to play professional golf, I've found that lots of staff are working for the golf course, to maintain the course, and when I go to the course very early morning, the maintenance is already set, so I appreciate those staff people.
Secondly, compared with junior events, I've found that there are lots of volunteers. Local people always support tournaments, which I really appreciate that.
And thirdly, my family.
And lastly, the people who are involved in the tournament, including you people. So I now know that the tournaments are supported by a lot of people.

Q. Mr. Palmer has traditionally invited younger, aspiring players to come to his golf tournament, Vijay Singh as an example. Those golfers like Vijay have gone on to do great things on the golf courses here in America. Were you aware of that? Did that get involved in your decision to come play here, and are you aspiring to get to that level of greatness like Vijay Singh?
RYO ISHIKAWA: When I played the AJGA event four years ago, all the participants received pink flags, which was signed by Mr. Palmer, and I really felt that Mr. Palmer really supports junior golfers. So I've been knowing about Mr. Palmer's support to younger players. And also I really respect Mr. Palmer.

Q. I've heard that recently you've made some swing changes, and I'm wondering what prompted you to do that, and are they having the desired effect?
RYO ISHIKAWA: My ultimate goal is that I can continue with the same swing, same things with my body and same movement. But at this moment I'm still looking for the way to do it. I feel that I haven't taken even one step yet.

Q. With so many people watching you, is it hard to be a 17-year-old kid? And what other interests do you have other than golf?
RYO ISHIKAWA: Right now, English. At my house I do some TV games, like soccer game.

Q. Two questions: Do you have any plans to play European Tour golf events? And second, if the golf is in the Olympic Games, would you want to play?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I've watched some European Tour events on TV, and I know that player level is as high as PGA TOUR, and I also know that some European Tour players play PGA TOUR events and made a good performance. So it all depends on schedule and also offer, but if there is a chance, I want to try.
If golf became an Olympic sport, I'm sure I'd definitely want to represent the country. I watched the WBC and World Cup Soccer and Beijing Olympic Games, and I really want to represent my country and to play golf in the Olympic Games sometime.

Q. Last week I watched you play at Transitions, and I was surprised how far you hit the ball and also how high you hit the ball. Is that your natural flight or do you aspire to hit it high, and also do you feel the wind in Florida is different from the wind in Japan?
RYO ISHIKAWA: Since I started to play golf my ball went high compared with other kids, but probably because I was not so tall. I practiced, and naturally my ball went high.
In Japan, it depends on where to play, there is a difference among the winds. And in Florida, because of humidity, I feel the wind is heavier, especially the crosswind is kind of heavy. So probably I need to hit a little more than I expect with the wind. That's what I want to try.

Q. Is this the first time playing with Mr. Tiger Woods, and how do you feel about that?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I thought I would be more excited but not really right now to play. Probably in the near future when I feel really I can compete with Tiger, then I will probably be more excited. To do so I need much more effort.

Q. You watch a lot of PGA TOUR events, and I just wanted to find out which event really stands out from when you were a youngster, and also of Tiger Woods' wins, which one do you think is the best one?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I remember the 2005 Masters, on No. 16 green Tiger made a long chip-in. And also last year at this event, Tiger made a long birdie putt on the last hole was my memory. But not only those two shots but also lots of similar great shots. That's why I wanted to play in PGA TOUR events and wanted to compete in this field.

Q. Do you like NBA basketball and will you try to go to the Magic game tonight? And while you're here in Orlando, will you check out the theme parks like Disney and Universal?
RYO ISHIKAWA: Unfortunately I haven't watched the NBA so many times, and tonight I need to take a rest for tomorrow, so I will go to bed.
This time I don't have any plans, but four years ago I missed the cut after two days, so I went to the Universal Studio.

Q. You played with Ryuji Imada yesterday. What is he like from your point of view, and also what was the advice that you got from Ryuji in the practice round?
RYO ISHIKAWA: The difference from my golf is probably the trajectory of ball flight, and in the head wind sometimes Mr. Imada outdrove me, and also sometimes in the case of strong crosswind, my ball always would go on the wind, but Mr. Imada's ball went straight. So I really feel the difference of ball flight.
When Mr. Imada came to Japan last year, I played a round together, and he said my swing is great at that time, but he did not mention anything about the swing changes in a I am trying right now.
MARK STEVENS: We'd like to thank you for coming in today, and best of luck to you this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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