Matteo Manassero landed at the Scottish Hydro Challenge hoping that the Scottish Highlands will offer a gateway to a place on The European Tour.
The 17 year old Italian, who just missed out on a place at The Open in the Qualifying tournament at Sunningdale on Monday, is making his first appearance as a professional on the Challenge Tour at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Course in Aviemore and is hoping to make a significant impression on the Rankings to propel himself towards The European Tour as one of the top 20 Challenge Tour players come the end of the season.
Manassero has emerged as one of golf’s hottest properties since becoming the youngest Amateur Champion in history last year before announcing his arrival on the world stage at The Open Championship at Turnberry, where he won the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur in the field by finishing in a tie for 13th spot.
He went on to confirm his talent at this year’s Masters Tournament, where, at the tender age of 16, he became the youngest player to make the cut at Augusta National. Manassero turned professional a few weeks after his Masters debut, taking his bow in the paid ranks at the BMW Italian Open where he finished in a tie for 29th place. He then played in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, finishing in a tie for 17th position.
“I am playing on the Challenge Tour because my main goal is to get my card for 2011 and this is another way to get it,” said the Italian. “It is good opportunity to have to play here - I plan to play seven events on the European Tour and seven on the Challenge Tour and hopefully I can get my card for next year’s European Tour through one way or the other.”
Manassero, who is still completing his school studies with private tutors and online lessons, does not feel any added pressure on his young shoulders having taken the golfing world by storm over the past 12 months.
“I don't feel any pressure from outside,” he continued. “I am pretty comfortable and not nervous about the expectations of other people. I am here to try and play my best and here to try and win.
“Becoming impatient is something that can happen. You could get to the top quick, maybe by winning two tournaments then maybe the results you expect don't come. Then you can be very impatient. I have a lot of time in front of me and I am sure that if I keep working hard and playing then the results will come. I feel they are coming already.”
Manassero is the star attraction at the Scottish Hydro Challenge but he will find himself in talented company at the Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Course.
The Italian will play the first two rounds in the company of defending champion Jamie McLeary – who won last year’s event ahead of Manassero’s close friend Edoardo Molinari – and the current Challenge Tour Number One, Robert Dinwiddie, winner of the 2006 Scottish Hydro Challenge.
Scotsman McLeary is looking forward to locking horns with golf’s newest sensation. He said: “I haven’t actually met Matteo but I have seen a lot of him on TV and what he has achieved so far is incredible for someone so young.
“I think he will find a lot of players out here on the Challenge Tour. You just have to look at last year and the guys who made it through the Challenge Tour, especially Edoardo Molinari and Rhys Davies, to see how valuable the Challenge Tour can be in terms of developing your game.
“It would be great to defend this title this week – I have been in contention a lot this year and just not finished it off but hopefully coming back here to defend will be the catalyst to more success. I like the course here – it is set up for people who can grind it out and that suits me.”
|2||CARLSSON, Magnus A||SWE||18||-13|