Japanese teen golf prodigy Ryo Ishikawa teed off Thursday in the 75th Masters with hopes of providing people struggling in his disaster-ravaged homeland some much-needed inspiration.
The 19-year-old superstar has vowed to donate his entire 2011 season golf prize money winnings to relief efforts in the wake of last month’s earthquake and tsunami that left 26,000 dead in Japan.
“I would really like to encourage people, especially those who are going through the hardship in Japan,” Ishikawa said. “I hope this will contribute to those people so they will be encouraged and they can walk again in their life.
“I believe in the power sports can bring to people who are affected by the disaster. I would like to do my best to bring joy to those people. I would like to emphasize the power and energy that sport can create.”
Ishikawa’s goal is to send 200 million yen ($2.4 million) in relief donation prize money this year as well as 100,000 yen ($1,200) for his every birdie.
“As I see how these people supported me, now it’s my turn to support those people who are in need,” Ishikawa said. “As my social status in Japan is getting higher, I believe that is one of the responsibilities.”