Matteo Manassero has identified the perfect way to make up for missing out on a second Masters Tournament appearance – a victory in front of his own people in this week’s Sicilian Open.
The Italian teenager came up short in his bid for a return to Augusta National after finishing sixth in last week’s Trophée Hassan II in Morocco when he needed a victory, but he insists a first European Tour win in his homeland would more than make up for his absence in the season’s first Major Championship.
The 18 year old played some sensational golf at the Golf du Palais Royale in Agadir last week, but could not match the brilliant Michael Hoey who stormed through the field with a pair of priceless 65s in the final two rounds to take home his fourth European Tour victory.
“Last week was a great week and I played some great golf, but I made a few too many bogeys in the final round and Michael played so well that it wasn’t to be my week,” said Manassero.
“But I have played great in my last two tournaments, so the confidence is there and I feel good about my game, and I am really looking forward to Sicily now.
“The Masters would have been an amazing bonus if I had won last week, but firstly I was trying to win the tournament in Morocco.
“I don’t feel like I have missed out on Augusta. I don’t have any sadness about not going there because I have a great chance to win in Italy this week, and that would be a great achievement. I think everybody would love to win in their home country, and I am the same.”
Manassero has not played the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, in Sicily but has heard only positive things about the new venue for the Sicilian Open and cannot wait to get going in his homeland.
The young Italian will be the star attraction in Sicily, and he is keen to live up to that billing and produce the third win of his European Tour career before he celebrates his 19th birthday next month.
“I am really happy to be playing in Sicily in front of my home crowd, in my own territory,” he said. “If I can win there then it will be even better than if I had won in Morocco.
“I have never played the course, but I hear it is going to be tough and the wind will blow because it is by the sea. It is going to be tough and it looks really scenic and it will be an interesting challenge.”
Manassero will lead a 16-strong Italian challenge in Sicily, alongside the Godfather of Italian golf, Costantino Rocca, former Tour winner Emanuele Canonica as well as many of the country’s young pretenders such as 2011 Challenge Tour graduates Andrea Pavan and Federico Colombo.
Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin is the defending champion after holding off the challenge of Englishman Anthony Wall by a single stroke at Donnafugata Golf Resort and Spa 12 months ago to secure his third European Tour victory.
|5||LARA, José Manuel||ESP||18||-11|