Sunday, February 22, 2009

How 'bout that Danny Lee?

Danny Lee, the youngest U.S. Amateur champion, is now the youngest European Tour winner ever. In a week when 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa missed the cut in his first PGA Tour event (tying Justin Leonard and Shigeki Maruyama and coming within 1 shot of Vijay Singh and 2 of Zach Johnson, in the process), the 18-year-old amateur birdied 4 of his last 6 holes to beat out a tightly-packed field that included Anthony Kim, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Graeme Storme, and Niclas Fasth--all of whom finished double digits under par but couldn't match his -17 total.

Looks like Asian and Asian-American teenagers like Lee, Ishikawa, and Tadd Fujikawa are looking to catch up to their female peers--Ya Ni Tseng, Inbee Park, Amy Yang, Vicky Hurst, Michelle Wie, and many many others--who have been transforming the world of women's professional golf over the past several years. We'll soon get to see how Lee and Ishikawa stack up against each other and the rest of the field at Augusta. Ishikawa broke the 100-million-yen barrier his 1st professional year on the JGTO in 2008; with a 2-year exemption on the European Tour and plans to turn pro after the Masters, Lee will have a chance to do even better on a bigger stage in 2009.

[Update 1 (12:44 pm): The linkage from Jay Busbee and Ryan Ballengee is much appreciated. As long as you're here, why don't you check out Dave Seanor's and Bill Jempty's reactions to Lee's win when you get a chance? Bill is right that the guys have a long way to go, but Dave's overview of Asian amateurs suggests it might not take them as long a time as we expect to make up ground.]

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