These kids are good

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

With the world watching with almost grotesque fascination as Tiger Woods continues along the road to redemption, two youngsters served notice that the future of golf may not lie solely in the hands of the embattled superstar.

Ryo Ishikawa charged from six strokes back Sunday, shooting a 58 to win by five at The Crowns. Sure, it was the Japan Tour, but the 18-year-old's amazing feat was the lowest score recorded on a major tour. Ishikawa birdied nine of his first 11 holes and eventually had to settle for his 58 after barely missing a birdie putt on 18.

On the PGA Tour -- where David Duval, Chip Beck and Al Geiberger share the record for the lowest round with 59 -- 20-year-old Rory McIlroy fired a final-round 62 on Sunday to win the Quail Hollow Championship.

The Irish lad became the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since Woods by deploying a Tiger-like assault on Phil Mickelson, who can take top spot in the world rankings should he win at The Players Championship and Woods not be in the top five.

McIlroy, now No. 9 in the world, barely made the cut before finishing with rounds of 66 and 62.

Ishikawa, already a star in Japan where he is known as the "bashful prince," has been groomed for stardom on the PGA Tour. And along with his flashy dress, inspired by Ian Poulter, Ishikawa brings a lot of swagger. He's media savvy and he comes with the promise of a huge boost in worldwide exposure for the PGA Tour.

So, too, does the mop-topped McIlroy, who turned 21 on Tuesday while celebrating his first win in the United States.

"It has been a crazy ride until this point," McIlroy said. "I'm just delighted to get here. To get my first win in the U.S. is special ... if I was back home and had a win like this I'd be having a good (party)."

There's also a coming-out party for another highly touted international star this week. Italian Matteo Manassero, 17, is making his professional debut at the Italian Open. Manassero became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters this season and was the silver medallist as leading amateur at last year's British Open.

With the last crop of potential greats -- Sergio Garcia, Anthony Kim and company -- struggling to break through with a major championship, the PGA Tour certainly could use an injection of excitement from the new kids.

And Tiger likely is ready to deflect some of the spotlight.

Ochoa goes out on top

Lorena Ochoa ended her career, and a 158-week run as the LPGA's No. 1 player, Sunday.

Playing her final event in her home country, the 28-year-old Mexican finished sixth at the Tres Marias Championship.

The following day, she was replaced atop the women's world ranking by super sophomore Jiyai Sin of South Korea, who won on the Japan LPGA Tour.

Ochoa called it quits to spend more time with her family and do charity work.

The move, just two years after the retirement of Annika Sorenstam, who also was near the top of the world rankings, is a major blow for the LPGA Tour. Ochoa was a star on a tour that badly needs them.

It's not often you see athletes retire when they're still on top of their game but Ochoa said she lost the motivation to compete.

She's is the same age as Bobby Jones was when he shocked the world by retiring.

Plane mad

Darren Clarke had a whirlwind weekend.

Playing in the European Tour Spanish Open, Clarke shot rounds of 75 and 69. Figuring he had missed the cut, Clarke flew back to England. When it became apparent he had made the cut, he chartered a plane to get him back to Spain, costing a "five-figure" sum. After travelling through the night, he made it back to play the final two rounds. Clarke tied for 30th, earning just over $22,000 to recoup some of his costs.


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