Rising star Matteo Manassero has hailed the Challenge Tour for its positive influence on young players and is relishing playing in this week’s tournament, the Rolex Trophy.
The 17 year old has become one of golf’s hottest properties over the last year following his sensational performance at The 2009 Open Championship, where he won the Silver Medal after finishing in a tie for 13th place. The Italian has since turned professional and became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters Tournament in April this year.
Manassero has made the cut in every European Tour event in which he has played this season and his best performance was 17th at the BMW PGA Championship in May. His appearance in the Rolex Trophy, held at the stunning Golf Club de Genève overlooking Lake Geneva, is Manassero’s third Challenge Tour event of the season, having finished tenth in the Credit Suisse Challenge and 42nd in the Scottish Hydro Challenge.
“It has been a fantastic year and I’m enjoying it very much,” he said. “It’s a different life with all the travelling and the big players and big names around, but it’s really good. It sometimes feels quite strange that I’m so much younger than most others on the Tour, but when I’m out here and playing it feels like I’m just one of the guys like everyone else.
“I played Challenge Tour events in Scotland and Switzerland and enjoyed them very much. It’s quite different obviously from the main Tour but it’s very good and a great challenge where you can learn a lot. It’s a very good stepping stone and the best preparation you can get for life on The European Tour. This kind of experience is invaluable and I am learning a lot also.”
The Rolex Trophy differs from other events in that it is played in a pro-am format. In the first round, two professionals play with two junior players from the area and in the subsequent three rounds, each professional plays with three amateurs.
“This week is good as it’s a different format from normal and fun to be playing with people who aren’t fellow professionals,” Manassero added. “It’s a great course which I like a lot so it will be a fun week and I will try to play very well.
“It’s a great opportunity for a junior player to play alongside professionals. I played in a couple of pro-ams with Italian professionals and I think it’s a great chance for a developing young player. It’s very important and a great opportunity to learn if you are aiming to turn professional in the future. I will give them some advice if I have the chance or if it’s needed.”
The first round of the Rolex Trophy is on Wednesday August 11. The field comprises the top 40 players from the Challenge Tour Rankings, plus Manassero and Switzerland’s Julien Clément. It is traditionally one of the most competitive events on the schedule and this year the prize fund is €218,000.
All 42 players will be hoping to match the success of recent Rolex Trophy winners Michael Jonzon, Alexander Noren and Marc Warren, who all followed up their triumphs at Golf Club de Genève with victories on The European Tour.
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