Teenage sensation Matteo Manassero of Italy will continue his golfing education at this week’s Credit Suisse Challenge, which marks his second appearance on the European Challenge Tour.
Playing under a sponsor’s invitation, Manassero – the youngest, and first Italian winner of the Amateur Championship in 2009 – will aim to improve on his 42nd place finish at last month’s Scottish Hydro Challenge.
The gifted 17 year old, who first came to the attention of the wider golfing public when finishing tied 13th as an amateur at The Open Championship 12 months ago, is intent on finishing in the top 20 of the Challenge Tour Rankings, should he fail to earn enough money to secure his card through his seven starts on The European Tour.
Manassero currently sits 130th in The Race to Dubai on €97,633 after making four appearances on The 2010 European Tour International Schedule since turning professional in May – with a tie for 17th at the BMW PGA Championship his highest finish to date – and the Challenge Tour is an alternative route to securing a place in The 2011 Race to Dubai, a stage he seems set to grace for many years to come.
Manassero said: “I’m really looking forward to playing the Credit Suisse Challenge, which will be my second Challenge Tour event. Even though I didn’t finish as high as I would’ve liked I still really enjoyed my first appearance on the Challenge Tour, at the Scottish Challenge.
"The guys were very friendly and the level of competition was very high, so I’m excited about getting out there again and hopefully getting a better result this time. Obviously I would love to earn enough money on The European Tour to get my card for next season, but if not then finishing in the top 20 of the Challenge Tour Rankings is my next goal.”
If he is to capture his first professional title, Manassero will have to see off eight champions from this season’s Challenge Tour Schedule including runaway Rankings leader Robert Dinwiddie of England, who took the last fortnight off to recharge his batteries.
Dinwiddie will be joined in the field by his compatriot and fellow Challenge Tour champion Charlie Ford, whose fine debut season continued at last week’s ALLIANZ Golf Open de Lyon, where he finished tied sixth.
Another Challenge Tour champion who produced a fine performance in Lyon was Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen, the winner of The Princess, who finished in a tie for third place.
The ALLIANZ Open de Lyon was won by Bernd Weisberger, who will attempt to become the first back to back winner on this season’s Challenge Tour Schedule when he tees up at Golf Sempachersee in Hildisrieden, Switzerland, which will host the €150,000 event for the first time.
Other notable names in the field include his compatriot Florian Praegant, who will be bidding to go one better than last year, when he lost out by one shot to former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker of England.
Baker won the event twice, in 2007 and 2009, with a victory for Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello – who subsequently triumphed on The European Tour at the Austrian Golf Open – sandwiched in between.