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Ryo Hisatsune Named PGA European Tour's Rookie of the Year

With eight top-10 finishes in 2023, up-and-coming golfer Ryo Hisatsune became the first Japanese to win the European Tour's Rookie of the Year award.

Ryo Hisatsune became a well-recognized name on the PGA European Tour during the 2023 season, earning a victory at the French Open on September 24 and placing in the top 10 in seven other tournaments.

The 21-year-old golfer, a native of Okayama, was selected to receive the tour's Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, it was announced on Tuesday, November 28.

Hisatsune is the first Japanese golfer to receive the prestigious accolade, which has been awarded since 1960.

Past award winners on the circuit, also currently known as the DP World Tour, include Jon Rahm (2017), Sergio Garcia (1999), Colin Montgomerie (1988) and Nick Faldo (1977). They have won a combined nine majors.

"I'm so happy, it's such a surprise," Hisatsune said on Tuesday, two months after his banner performance at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France. "This season has been such an experience on the DP World Tour, it's been so exciting. Winning the Open de France was amazing for me. I've been working so hard, and it was such a good result. I was so happy and very honored to become a Japanese winner on the DP World Tour."

Insights from a European Tour Executive

In summarizing Hisatsune's credentials for consideration as the European Tour's top rookie, David Howell, chairman of the tour's tournament committee, said, according to the tour's official website: "The list of contenders for this year’s award was particularly strong, but Ryo thoroughly deserves this accolade for his performances throughout the season.

"He has proven over 27 events that he belongs at this level and his victory in France, at one of our most historic events and challenging golf courses, was particularly impressive. He is a young man with a lot of talent, and I look forward to seeing him flourish in the years to come."

Ryo Hisatsune
Golfer Ryo Hisatsune holds the French Open winner's trophy on September 24 at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France. (GETTY IMAGES/via KYODO)

Determination Pays Off for Ryo Hisatsune

Before achieving success this season on the European Tour, Hisatsune experienced disappointment early in his career. That pushed him to keep striving for excellence.

In November 2022, Hisatsune participated in the European Tour Qualifying School and earned his card for the 2023 campaign by finishing tied for seventh in qualifying.

"Three years ago, I missed my card at Q School in Japan, so I went on Japan's second tier, won three times and got a Japan Tour card," Hisatsune said, according to the European Tour website. "Finally I got a DP World Tour card last year and now I've also got a PGA Tour card. I'm excited and I'm so happy."

As a European Tour rookie, Hisatsune finished 19th in driving accuracy, hitting fairways on 75% of his tee shots.

Hisatsune began his career on the Japan Challenge Tour, turning pro in 2020.

He's currently No 81 in the latest world rankings, which were released on Sunday. 

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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