Japanese golf star and heartthrob Ryo Ishikawa has disappointed his legions of female admirers by announcing his engagement to his childhood sweetheart.
Nicknamed "The Bashful Prince," he stayed true to form with the announcement, giving scant details about his forthcoming nuptials, including the name of his intended.
"I'm now 20 years old, so I decided the time was right," he said Sunday at Narita airport on his return from the U.S. Masters where he failed to make the cut, the Mainichi Shimbun and other media reported Monday.
"I got engaged last month, to a junior high school classmate," he said.
Ishikawa and his management are fiercely protective of his privacy, and despite his status as one of the biggest celebrities in Japan, the media generally plays along.
Japanese sports newspapers have described Ishikawa's fiancee as "a tall, slender beauty with long black hair," a catch-all description that gives little away.
Ishikawa first introduced her to "people related to him" during the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida last month and she also accompanied him to the Masters, the Sports Hochi said.
Asked about the timing of the engagement, Ishikawa said with an embarrassed smile that "there is no special meaning or emotion. It just happens to be this timing," the Nikkan Sports daily said.
Last October, his management announced Ishikawa was dating a girl he met in junior high school and called on the media to respect his privacy.
Ishikawa has been a hot marketing property since May 2007 when he became the youngest men's winner on a major tour by lifting the domestic Munsingwear Open KSB Cup aged 15 years and eight months. He turned professional in 2008.
With his squeaky clean image, he attracts huge galleries, many of them women, wherever he plays in Japan.© AFP