Ryo Hisatsune was a relatively unknown golfer from Japan just over a year ago. But come next season, the 21-year-old will have opportunities to go toe-to-toe against the planet’s best golfers on the PGA TOUR on a weekly basis.
Hisatsune became the first Asian golfer on Sunday to benefit from the strategic partnership between the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR when he earned his PGA TOUR card along with nine others through the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.
“My stomach has been in knots playing these last few weeks, but knowing I’ve secured my status makes me extremely happy, and I’m really looking to next year,” said the ever-smiling Hisatsune. “This has only opened the door and it’s up to me to take advantage of the opportunity but for now, I’m just really happy.”
In the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, Hisatsune finished tied 18th to seal the last and 10th available PGA TOUR card for players not otherwise exempt. Throughout the final day, he moved in and out of the Top 10 bracket but eventually finished 27 points ahead of Rasmus Hojgaard, whose twin brother Nicolai won the final tournament of the DP World Tour season by two strokes. Other players who earned dual memberships on the PGA TOUR include Adrian Meronk (Pol), Ryan Fox (Nzl), Victor Perez (Fra), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Alexander Bjork (Swe), Sami Valimaki (Fin), Robert MacIntyre (Sco), Matthieu Pavon (Fra) and Jorge Campillo (Esp).
Hisatsune’s joy was for all to see on Sunday as he maintained his meteoric rise where only two years ago, he was playing on the Abema Tour, which is the secondary circuit in his home nation. He won three times then to secure playing rights on the Japan Golf Tour in 2022 and at the end of last year, he signed up for the DP World Tour Qualifying School and finished tied seventh.
It proved to be the start of an impressive run of golf for the young Japanese as he finished runner-up in his first DP World Tour start at the Australian PGA Championship, which was one of eight top-10s accumulated this season. The highlight came in September when he stunningly won the Cazoo Open de France, becoming only the third Japanese golfer in history after Isao Aoki and Hideki Matsuyama to triumph on the DP World Tour.
He has now set his sights on winning on the PGA TOUR.
“I want to put in the work to ultimately win on the PGA TOUR,” said Hisatsune. “I want to follow in the footsteps of Hideki and become a player who can win major championships. There are so many events that I’m looking forward to playing in. I remember watching Hideki play on the PGA TOUR and I’ve always wanted to play on the PGA TOUR too and thinking about how that may become a reality. I’m beyond happy and I just really want to work hard and play my best next year.”
While Hisatsune plans to set up his base in Florida as the likes of Matsuyama and Satoshi Kodaira, who is also a winner on the PGA TOUR, live in the Sunshine State, he will always remember his roots which gave him the opportunity to advance his golf career. “During my rookie season on the Abema Tour, I was able to win three titles, which moved me up right away to secure my (Japan Golf Tour) card. That was huge. Then, my career transitioned to the DP World Tour and I’ve been able to progress nicely. From that regard, my professional career has been filled with lots of great memories,” he said.
“My game stood up to challenges that the golf courses (on the DP World Tour) provided. I’ve been able to put up some good results, which gave me confidence. I thought I was going to struggle more but I found myself really enjoying being in contention. In that sense, I’ve surprised myself a lot.”
Hisatsune could very well surprise many others on the PGA TOUR in 2024.