Matteo Manassero is hopeful he can make up for his Masters Tournament disappointment by making a winning debut at the Sicilian Open.
The 18 year old from Verona needed to win in Morocco last week to secure a place at Augusta National for the second time, but came up just short, eventually finishing in a tie for sixth place.
However, the opportunity to play on home soil at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort near Sciacca, Sicily, has provided the two-time European Tour winner with ample consolation.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s always nice to play home soil, and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of support so I’m really looking forward to the week. Obviously qualifying for the Masters was the main goal, but if I couldn’t make it there, then Sicily is definitely the next best place.
“I wasn’t too frustrated because it’s given me the chance to play here. I think even if I’d made the Masters I might’ve been tired, because I’d had to fight so hard to get there. I gave it my best shot, but I’m sure there will be many other chances to play the Masters.
“I have lots of motivation to play this week because I love playing in my home country, and I want to make up for missing out on victory in my last two tournaments. If I can get in contention on Sunday, hopefully I can finish it off this time.”
Manassero has finished second and sixth in his last two events, and believes a third professional victory is not too far away.
“My main aim is to get back into the top 50 of the World Ranking,” said the World Number 61. “I’m pretty close, so if I can win this week I should move back into the top 50, which is very important for us players. It gives you great opportunities, and it’s a great achievement. So that is my main goal this year, and I hope I can achieve it this week, or very soon.
“I’ve been playing very solid golf lately. I haven’t made many mistakes and my short game has been working well, so I’m hoping that will continue this week.
“I still need to do a little bit of work on my long game, but it’s now a lot better than it was at the end of last season, so I’m very hopeful of having a good week.”
The pressure was on Manassero slightly earlier than usual this week, as he partnered George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, and Sir Rocco Forte, owner of Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, in the Wednesday Pro-Am.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “George hadn’t played for a while, but he did quite well. I think we finished on 13 under, which was a pretty good score. Unfortunately we didn’t score very well on the back nine, but it was still a great day and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves as much as I did.”