Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters 2022

Bashful prince Ishikawa recaptures his power

Bashful prince Ishikawa recaptures his power

Former PGA Tour star Ryo Ishikawa ended a three-year title drought when he rolled in a birdie putt at the second playoff hole and beat Rikuya Hoshino to win the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters for the third time on Sunday.

Ishikawa carded a closing one-under-par 69 at the Taiheiyo Club's Gotemba's Course for a four-day total of eight-under 272, which was matched by Hoshino after he also returned an identical 69.

Starting the day three shots off the pace, Ishikawa overcame the deficit by carding five birdies against two bogeys and a double bogey while Hoshino had three birdies to offset two bogeys.

The latest win marked Ishikawa's 18th victory on JGTO, nearly three years since he last captured Golf Nippon Series JT Cup in 2019.

The victory also made him the only third golfer to have won three times at the Taiheiyo Masters after England's Lee Westwood (1996-1998), Masashi Ozaki (1973, 1992 and 1994) and Tsuneyuki Nakajima (1985, 2002 and 2006).

"Honestly, I can't believe it," said Ishikawa, who's fondly known by his fans as Hanikami Oji, literally 'Bashful Prince', due to his rock-star look.

"I have been working really hard to return to winning ways. I'm glad that I did it again after close to three years.

"But I still don't feel like I won. I won't rest on my laurels just yet. I will continue to aim higher without being content with my current self."

Ishikawa, once one of the brightest young talents in golf, first rose to prominence when he won his first JGTO title as a 15-year-old amateur in 2007.

By the time he reached 17, he was already a six-time winner and created history as the youngest-ever player to break the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

Ishikawa eventually made it to the PGA Tour in 2013 but his adventure in the US lasted only four years.

He had 11 top-10 finishes, with his best result being a runner-up at the Puerto Rico Open.