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April 7, 2009

Ryo Ishikawa


ED HERLIHY: Good afternoon. We welcome Ryo Ishikawa to his first Masters. He received a special invitation from Augusta national to play, and we are very, very excited to have him here this year. Ryo became the youngest player to win a Japanese Tour event in 2007 at the remarkable age of 15 years and eight months, as a high school freshman. Ryo is now 17 years old, and the second-youngest Masters competitor behind Tommy Jacobs who played in 1952. Ryo is ranked fifth on the Japan Golf Tour Money List last year. We are truly honored and privileged to have him with us today. Ryo will make a couple of comments, and then we will open up to questions, and Masaki Chiba will serve as the interpreter.
RYO ISHIKAWA: Hello, I'm Ryo Ishikawa from Japan. It's like a dream. I have played several practice rounds here since last week, but I still can't believe that I am at Augusta. So I am so grateful to be invited by the Masters and I would like to compress my sincere appreciation.
The golf course is so beautiful, much more than the one I watched on TV. So I would also like to thank all of the fans, sponsors, media, the team who support me and my family; without any of them, I could not have come here. Firstly, I would like to give my special thanks to Mr. Ron Reick who telephoned me last week and gave me a lot of advice on this course. I hope I can play my golf this week, and good luck to me. Thank you for your attention.
ED HERLIHY: Very good. We'll open it up to questions now.

Q. This is the first time for you. Can you just tell me the first impression, especially on the greens?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I think when I first arrived here, it was kind of after the rain and I expected it to be a little faster, but now that I know it's going to be faster and faster as I play, I can feel it.

Q. I know you're playing for seven rounds since you came here last Friday, but we didn't see you here practicing at the course; is there any reason for you not coming here and practicing?
RYO ISHIKAWA: The reason is that because as I played in front of a huge crowd, the galleries, and I got a little bit nervous, and although I had a great swing; until yesterday, as I played in front of many people, that I got nervous. So my swing was just kind of messed up a little bit, so I just wanted to spend some time by myself practicing a swing. That's why I didn't come over here.

Q. Just can you tell me your first impression in general about coming to Augusta? I know that Greg Norman got advice from Jack Nicklaus when he came the first time, but do you -- did you get any advice from anybody else?
RYO ISHIKAWA: Yesterday I played with Ian Poulter, and he gave me a lot of good advices, and one of the advice that I got especially Amen Corner, 11, 12, 13, that as long as you play really safely here, and just be careful with what you do, I think you will be okay; although you need to pay some more attention to the places that add the holes, which you can take the birdies.

Q. Now the pairings were announced that you will be playing with Anthony Kim and Danny Lee. Do you feel any pressure as a young player that now you are the future of this golf world, and can you just tell us your impression about that, or just any responsibility as a young player?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I think Rory McIlroy and Anthony Kim are my pairing partners.
I think I'm very honored to play with those players. Both of them, I really respect. But also, I am so excited to play with them, and I really want to do my best to be the center of attention in this tournament, too, and I would like to just do my best and to carry on in the future in the golf world.

Q. What are your expectations for the week, and also, if you got a bit nervous playing before the big crowds here, how are you going to handle that on Thursday and Friday?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I know that I was really nervous yesterday and I know that I will be more nervous in the real tournament. But I think within the context that I believe that how can I just put my best in each hole, and especially when I stood at the first hole, how can I just put myself to concentrate on the game; that will be the key.

Q. When you were growing up, did you focus specifically on challenging Tiger Woods some day, and today, do you focus on being No. 1 in the world some day?
RYO ISHIKAWA: When I grew up, of course, I saw Tiger Woods and wanted to be like him. Now I know I can't be him. Now I'm a professional, and I know that I'm not going to be him. But I want to be myself, and then I want to go for the No. 1 in the world.

Q. Going back to today, you didn't show up here for the practice, and you practiced by yourself, but do you feel that your skill is coming back to you today?
RYO ISHIKAWA: Also stiff yesterday, and so I needed to practice my swing. So combining yesterday and today, probably did 300 swings of practice. But today, I feel great, and I feel like I was a couple of days ago when I felt really good.

Q. Now that you will be playing after Tiger, do you think you can play with a certain calmness as you go around?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I know that I will be nervous as I go after him. And probably as people see me and as people think that I'm really nervous.
But I think that one of the things that I really have to put in my mind is to do my best and then I think even no matter what kind of golf I play, that I will do my best and to finish my 18 holes.

Q. Do you have any specific goal on score or other goals?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I played seven rounds until today, and other than yesterday that I played for a total of six rounds, the best score was 1-under. Next best one was par.
I know that I will be nervous on the real tournament, but I think that will be my goal to just at least have a par game.

Q. Rory McIlroy said the other day, and he seemed almost fearless when he was talking when asked about how he feel about the course, and when asked how he would feel if he played on Sunday, he said he would feel inspired; do you feel that confidence in your golf game to feel that way, as well?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I'm not going to lie to anybody. I'm not going to hide my feelings. I am nervous, and as I go through -- every time I come to this course, I get nervous. But I think within that context, I am still trying to do my best, and that's how I play.

Q. Do you like Rory's hair style? Would you copy it?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I think he's cool and I like his hair (laughter).

Q. As you go through the round, do you have any specific strategy; I understand that you heard from, or you got some advice from Poulter yesterday, but do you have any specific strategy how to attack the course?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I think the difficulty of this course is the fact that although I will try to adjust my other strategy, that if I think that I can't do it, I won't do it. But if I think I can do it, then I would like to try.
But this course is such that it is very difficult, and if I try to do much more than what I have, I think that I will see the bad result.
So I think that control of that feeling, how to attack each specific moment will be the key in this course.

Q. How do you handle the attention that you receive in Japan, and how is that different, how does that compare to the attention that you have received while you've been here?
RYO ISHIKAWA: Since I was surrounded by the many great people, like caddies and other people who are always around me, to support, that's why I never really felt that I had to really deal with the situation, because of those people reviewing the situation for me.

Q. I understand that in March, between the other tournaments, you tried to change your form, your swing form, but now do you feel the impact of that change, transition?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I never had a coach in my life. That my father was the only one who taught me how to play, and then it was so different to have a coach, to have a different way of teaching me.
But although I received a different instruction, I don't believe that any negative impact I received through this experience. I think overall, this whole thing was a great experience for me. Just everything was an improvement for me.

Q. This is the fourth tournament for you in the United States, and the last one before you go back to Japan and join the Japanese Tour. So how do you feel; do you want to make the Masters as a kind of conclusion of this entire stretch of tournaments in the United States, or do you want to bring -- is there anything specific thing that you want to bring home with you in this tournament? Do you feel the Masters, does it give you a different feeling, just going against the Masters?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I've played three tournaments and this is my fourth tournament, and each tournament was different. I would like to just bring each one, each experience as a good experience; and just make it a bridge to the next part of my golf.
Coming into this tournament, I spent a lot of hours practicing and for the transition and for Augusta here, too. I would like to just get the feeling of just continuously just practicing for the improvement of my skill. I don't believe that there's nothing really special, specific things I need to do. But I would like to really remember that how I practice throughout these events, and I would like to bring those experiences in going back to Japan.

Q. I understand that you watched so many hours of video for Augusta National, and you examine and you expect that every single part and even try to memorize the course, but now you're here and see everything in person; do you have a gap from when you watch in video and when you are here standing?
RYO ISHIKAWA: As I saw everything in person, I thought everything was so small, so small and narrow. One of the most -- the one thing that would really surprise me was the proximity between the putting practice and the first hole. I knew it was close. I heard it was close, but I didn't know it was that close between the putting practice and the first hole.
The first day, first practice round, I did on the very first day, I came my score was 1-under. And as I just go through the whole entire round, I didn't feel that it was so difficult on the green. But as I went through more rounds, the next day, I hit a 3-putt on the green and I started realizing the difficulty of this golf course. And I think that I really have to remind myself that on the real tournament how I can just deal with this situation.

Q. Now if you make the cut, I think that probably the world will watch you ever more, and you get more attention. Do you have any kind of feeling about that?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I think that I'm -- I'm just thinking about each shot, the importance of each shot, rather than just making the cut. Of course, I would love to make the cut, but at the same time, it is not that -- my goal is to hit fewer numbers of shots rather than making the cut.

Q. As a Japanese players before you, they used to say right after the rounds and the next day, that they got really tired, and they felt like they played four rounds rather than one round. That's what they said when they were still young. How do you feel? Did you feel that way, too?
RYO ISHIKAWA: At this point, I don't have fatigue in the morning. I'm always 100% when I get up in the next morning.
But I do not know whether that is what's going to be in the real tournament, but I'm kind of excited about going through the process of feeling that the next morning, having the fatigue, and everything will be the new experience for me. I would like to really feel how it's going to be like.

Q. About the nervousness you felt yesterday; did you feel that nervousness because you're standing on this course, or do you feel the nervousness because you saw the huge amount of crowd, and then each hole looks so much smaller than before; is that the reason you felt more nervous?
RYO ISHIKAWA: I felt that in the morning, the gallery was the one that made me really nervous, because as I went to the course and saw the amount of the gallery, I thought this was the real tournament. But as I went through and then as I got really nervous, even when I was standing on the green and just practicing for the putt; but as I just look back, I realize that I was just standing and watching other people, rather than just spending more time practicing.
So I think that the crowd was more the factor.

Q. How much bigger was the crowd than your expectation?
RYO ISHIKAWA: As I stood on the first hole, and saw the whole entire hole was surrounded by people, it really felt like this was the real tournament, rather than the practice round. And I think that was really amazing to see that amount of people.
ED HERLIHY: Thank you very much. It's a great honour at Augusta to have you and we wish you the very, very best this week.

End of FastScripts

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