As Tiger Woods faded from the spotlight during the third round of the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa emerged into it with a daily best six-under-par 64, good for an 11 under par total and a chance to play in the final group Sunday with 54-hole leader Adam Scott.
Scott returned to the form that helped him jump out to the first round lead. He fired a four-under-par 66 to take a one shot advantage heading into the tournament's final day.
Ishikawa is no stranger to the headlines in his homeland of Japan. He has achieved rock star status with nine Japan Golf Tour wins. He was the youngest player to win on that tour when he captured the Munsingwear Open at just 15 years, eight months. What's possibly more remarkable is that he has already earned in excess of $10 million in endorsements.
He's obviously well grounded, too. It's well known that the high school senior agreed to donate all of his 2011 winnings to Japanese earthquake relief, with more funding being added for each birdie he makes.
I followed Ishikawa for much of his round today and was very impressed with his poise and confidence. There is seemingly no limit to how popular he can become. When he starts winning in the United States—which he will—his name will certainly be mentioned alongside the PGA Tour's best young players.
Jason Day is also at 11 under par with Ishikawa after an impressive four-under-par 66 Saturday.
Then two players are tied at 10 under par—Keegan Bradley and Martin Laird. Bradley shot a two-under-par 68 while Laird managed a three-under-par 67.
Luke Donald and Zach Johnson tied Ishikawa for low rounds of the day with six-under-par 64s. Donald improved to nine under par and Johnson climbed to eight under par overall. Also at nine under par was Rickie Fowler who shot a one-under-par 69.
Just five shots back with six under 54 hole totals are reigning U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and front-running PGA Tour Player of the Year candidate Steve Stricker.
The World Golf Championship events continue to have some of the most impressive fields anywhere. And this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is certainly no exception. It should be an exciting Sunday with some of the most competitive golf action of the year.