Ryo Ishikawa's Six Days in the Snow, a Yearly Tradition

From the Arabian gulf to the the American West, last week saw many of the world's top golfers playing in places both arid and sun-drenched.

Such was definitely not the case for Ryo Ishikawa. Instead of a week in Abu Dhabi or Phoenix, the Japanese golfer hit the snow covered hills of Yuzawa, a winter resort in the mountains north of Tokyo.

The intense physical training of cross country camp has become a annual tradition for the Japan's top ranked golfer, and includes a number of rigorous challenges on the snow and in the gym, as well as mental coaching with emphasis on "relaxation of the mind to achieve high performance in tense situations."  That, and fact that this training takes place far from the fairways and greens, might explain the strategy behind Ishikawa's annual pilgrimage. After all, it wasn't long ago that Japan's young gun was described as far 'too intense' and too focused on golf. 

The change of venue will be short lived however, as Ryo now heads back to the US in hopes of earning a place at the 2012 Masters.  Currently ranked 53rd,  he'll need to be in the world's top 50 to assure himself a spot and... starting with the Northern Trust Open next week...  has a maximum of five events in which to do it.

Needless to say, we'll be pulling for him at each one.  Special thanks to awesome Japanese golf girl, @usagihiyoko for the regular Ryo-updates.