Japan's "Tiger" cool on Stanford interest

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TOKYO, Sep 18 (Reuters) - Japanese schoolboy Ryo Ishikawa says he is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of his hero Tiger Woods and attend Stanford University.

Ishikawa, hailed as a world record breaker after winning a tournament on his debut on the Japanese men's tour in May, turned 16 only yesterday but is already known in the United States.

Japanese newspapers reported today that Stanford officials were monitoring Ishikawa's progress under the headline ''Ryo gets love call from Woods's alma mater.'' But Ishikawa is expected to reject the option of university and turn professional instead.

''I know you can still enrol at a university after you've turned pro,'' he told reporters. ''But the studies look really hard (at Stanford).'' Ishikawa became the youngest winner on the Japanese men's tour at just 15 years and eight months at the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

His victory shattered the previous record held by Spain's Seve Ballesteros, who won the 1977 Japan Open aged 20 years and seven months.

Ishikawa has been dubbed the ''Coy Prince'' by the Japanese media, who were also quick to describe him as a greater talent than Woods himself.

Japanese golf officials, meanwhile, hope that Ishikawa can rescue the JGTO Tour from the doldrums at a time when sponsorship and interest are on the wane.

Woods attended Stanford University for two years before turning professional in 1996. Talented Hawaiian teenager Michelle Wie is to enrol at Stanford later this year.

REUTERS BJR AS1852

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