Ryo Hisatsune has become the first Japanese player to be named Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, after a memorable maiden season on the DP World Tour.
The 21-year-old won the Cazoo Open de France and recorded a further seven top ten finishes as he finished his debut campaign in 17th position on the Race to Dubai.
Hisatsune earned his playing privileges by finishing seventh at Qualifying School Final Stage in November 2022 and started his career on the DP World Tour in style by sharing second place at the season-opening Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.
He posted back-to-back top tens at the Hero Indian Open and Magical Kenya Open Presented by Absa in early 2023, but his season highlight undoubtedly came in September when he became the first Japanese player to win in Continental Europe in more than 40 years with a breakthrough title in the Cazoo Open de France at Le Golf National. His two-shot victory, courtesy of a final round of 66 which included five birdies on the back nine, also moved him into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time.
Hisatsune’s other top ten finishes came at the Soudal Open, Made in HimmerLand, Barracuda Championship and the Nedbank Golf Challenge, before he finished the season by sharing 15th position in the DP World Tour Championship. Those performances helped him end the 2023 season in 17th position on the final Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex as he secured dual membership with the PGA TOUR for the 2024 season, taking the tenth and final available card.
The World Number 83 was voted as the 2023 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year by a panel comprising three members of the DP World Tour’s Tournament Committee and three DP World Tour Executives, beating a strong list of contenders to the prestigious award.
That list included Sweden’s Ludvig Åberg – who won the Omega European Masters, recorded two other top tens and made his Ryder Cup debut just three months after turning professional – and South Korean star Tom Kim, who finished joint runner up in the Open Championship, as well as English pair Dan Bradbury and Dan Brown, New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier and Northern Irishman Tom McKibbin, all of whom won on the DP World Tour in 2023 and qualified for the DP World Tour Championship earlier this month.
“I’m so happy, it’s such a surprise,” said Hisatsune. “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 honoured to become a Japanese winner on the DP World Tour.
“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. 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.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the DP World Tour, said: “I would like to congratulate Ryo on being named Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year after an impressive first season on the DP World Tour.
“Ryo is part of a strong contingent of Japanese players coming through and playing a global schedule on the DP World Tour and he joins an illustrious list of winners of this prestigious award.
“In addition to his victory at one of Europe’s most renowned courses, he showed remarkable consistency throughout his debut season and now having dual membership of both our Tour and the PGA TOUR at just 21 years old, he undoubtedly has the potential to go on to achieve even greater success globally.”
David Howell, Chairman of the Tournament Committee, said: “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.”
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