Date: May 30, 2012

Kato returns from Lone Star State

Ricky Kato recently returned from Dallas, Texas as the first Australian to receive the 2012 Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award. He was one of four top junior golfers in the world to receive the award during the HP Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas. “The Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards recognizes the achievements of junior golfers around the world who distinguish themselves with a high level of junior tournament play as well as excellence in academics, exceptional character and a commitment to community service. The award recipients participate in Championship week activities.” [Source: Salesmanship Club of Dallas] Upon receiving his award Ricky thanked Mr Tim Gamso and the Committee for selecting him. The nervous Ricky stated “This prestigious award is humbling and is even more special because I am receiving it in the year that Mr Byron Nelson would have been celebrating his centenary.” He went on to acknowledge Tournament Director Jon Drago and the Salesmanship Club for creating the award to help continue Byron Nelson&aposs legacy for encouraging and mentoring young golfers and congratulated his fellow award winners feeling honoured to be in such great company. An excited Ricky stated, “As you all know, I could not have won this award on my own and there are many people who have supported me …” He went on to thank his physio Mat Green, his swing coaches Gary Barter and Shuri Hines and his strength and conditioning coach Chris Smith. He also recognised his sponsors Srixon and Gripmaster. He made special mention to Golf Australia for their support in providing Ricky the opportunity to travel internationally as he felt this would not have been possible without their support. Ricky&aposs parents, David & Tomoko, received high accolades in his speech … “as they have always been my number one supporters, without their love and continued support I would not be able to fulfill my dreams.” Golf NSW High Performance Manager and NSW National Coach Khan Pullen commented that Ricky was nominated due to his recent tournament wins prior to the award, his National Junior Squad selection and his contribution to his former coach with assistance at her junior program. He was also recommended for the award based on his popularity with the other junior players, his attitude towards his golf development, competing and his sportsmanship. He is a great role model to other players in these areas.
During the week Ricky had the opportunity to meet with his idols of the golfing world. This only strengthened his drive and determination to further his golfing career and one day play on the PGA Tour to join his idols Bruce Devlin, Adam Scott and Jason Day.

Ricky Kato&aposs Blog – Receiving the Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award

On the 17th May after a long 16 hour journey across the Pacific I landed in Dallas, Texas. On my arrival I was met by Harden Ramey from The Salesmanship Club, the Sponsors of the Byron Nelson Championship. Harden welcomed me and off we went to the Four Seasons Resort. After a short rest, which was really quite impossible because I was so excited, I went to watch all the players practicing in readiness for Day 1 of the Byron Nelson Championship. To watch players such as Jason Day, Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley chip, putt and hit was awe-inspiring and such a privilege. Even with no sleep, I wasn t going to miss this opportunity. I watched until the light failed and then finally succumbed to jet lag. The following day I enjoyed the all- you- can- eat breakfast at the Four Seasons Wow! After breakfast, Tim Gamso gave me a tour of what goes on behind the scenes to prepare for the tournament with regards to media, VIPs etc. At lunch I met the other three award recipients and their families and we enjoyed another all- you- can- eat buffet!! At lunch I had the opportunity to visit the player s dining area and was fortunate to meet and chat with Jason Day and his wife. Amazing! On Saturday, after a 30 minute cart journey across the amazing Four Seasons layout, I joined the media contingent and was able to watch from behind the scenes. Ian Baker-Finch invited me to the booth while he commentated. Ian was laughing at David Feherty s commentating and jokes on air. A lot of fun. Dinner on Saturday was the culmination of this lifetime experience.
After being in the company of people such as John Drago, the organiser of the Byron Nelson Championship, I was presented by Peggie Nelson with my Award. I was nervous to be making a speech in front of well known golfing stars such as Kelly Kraft but I managed to get through and was humbled by the whole experience. On Sunday afternoon I watched Jason Dufner putt out for another victory before leaving for the journey home. A big thank you to the Byron Nelson Championship organisers for my unforgettable trip. Ricky Kato Recipient of the Byron Nelson International Junior Award. Congratulations, Ricky!