Tokyo: Runaway U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy possesses the same awe-inspiring game as former world number one Tiger Woods, according to Japan`s Ryo Ishikawa, who admitted the Northern Irishman`s brilliance had elevated him to another level.
The 19-year-old Ishikawa finished 18 strokes behind McIlroy, who at 22 became the youngest winner of the U.S. Open since 1923 when he completed a remarkable eight-stroke victory on Sunday with a record-breaking 16-under par total.
"Whenever people ask who is going to be the next Tiger, I have always replied McIlroy," Ishikawa told Japanese media. "He is a bit different from other players.”
"His playing style, his club speed... he can play any shot. I played with him at the Masters the year before last and I still think I want to emulate his style of play.”
"He has come this far in just two years," added Ishikawa, who finished in a tie for 30th at Congressional Country Club after a closing round 68.
"I`ve improved too but I haven`t been able to close the gap in those two years."
Ishikawa, a major celebrity in Japan, has struggled to hit the heights this season but insisted McIlroy`s stirring victory had given him added incentive to rediscover his touch.
"He`s given me motivation to take back to Japan and knuckle down to practice," said Ishikawa, a nine-times winner on the Japanese professional tour.
"When I was winning as much as I was in 2009 and then suddenly not winning so much I guess subconsciously I`ve been pushing too much, getting anxious.”
"But to shoot in the 60s on the last day meant I got a little revenge for the first three days so that was nice."