Tullo snatches victory from Manassero

14/08/2010 18:52:49
Mark Tullo ()
Mark Tullo ()

Chile’s Mark Tullo carded a stunning seven under par 65 in the final round of the Rolex Trophy to deny Italian teenager Matteo Manassero his first professional victory.

The 17 year old was leading by one with three holes to play but he bogeyed the 16th and 17th to slip back to 21 under for the tournament. He had a 30ft putt for birdie at the last which would have forced a play-off with Tullo, but it slid past the hole and he had to settle for a two under par 70 at Golf Club de Genève.

Manassero led by three shots from Alex Kaleka heading into the final day following rounds of 66, 67 and 64, and while the Frenchman was unable to mount a strong enough challenge, finishing with a 69, Tullo, four strokes back at the start of the round, applied sufficient pressure with some masterful putting.

The 32 year old bogeyed the first but bounced back with eight birdies – four on each nine – to better his previous three rounds of 69, 66 and 66. His progress gradually turned up the heat on Manassero, who stoically stayed in front with five birdies between the fourth and 14th, but as the course came under a deluge, it was the Chilean who edged ahead as his rival slipped up.

“I can’t even understand how I won,” admitted Tullo,” who won a €24,400 and a Rolex watch. “I was expecting Matteo to shoot way under again today. He’s been playing amazingly. Today I really holed some great putts – and I have done all week. That was the key. I had putting lessons a week ago and it changed my whole approach.

“I’ve been playing well all year but have never putted well. This week I’ve putted really well and it’s made the difference. I always thought I could win but didn’t dare to dream too much. I’m very proud. It’s made a difference having my wife Manne here and our baby Daniel here. We go out to dinner, relax, we don’t miss each other… It does help.

“I wasn’t even looking at the scoreboard. I imagined he was way under and I just told myself to stick to my game and keep trying to make birdies. I didn’t even look at it on the 18th. Maybe the rain unsettled Matteo, I don’t know, and you never wish a fellow pro to make a bogey, but luckily Matteo bogeyed the 17th and I end up winning. It’s great.”

Manassero, who shot to prominence when he won the silver medal as a 16 year old amateur at last year’s Open Championship and then became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters Tournament, admitted he felt very nervous, having not been in that situation before as a professional.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Probably because of the rain, too much pressure, it’s my first time in that situation… I don’t know. It’s a bad finish but it’s been a good week. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s just one of those things and I’m only 17 – there will be plenty more chances for me to win.

“I felt nervous at the start of the round but started playing okay and felt a little less pressure. But then the rain came as we approached the last few holes and I was pretty nervous. That’s probably what made me drop those two shots.

“Mark did very well. It’s a good score. I shot two under which is not a great score compared to what I’ve scored the last three rounds, but it’s okay.”

Spaniard Alvaro Velasco shot the round of the day, a nine under par 63 taking him to 14 under and joint fifth place.