Early-bird Manassero pleased with solid start

8/9/2012 7:02:46 PM
Matteo Manassero  (Getty Images)
Matteo Manassero (Getty Images)

After hitting the opening tee shot of the 94th US PGA Championship from the tenth tee of Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, Matteo Manassero was please to sign for a solid one under par 71.

Manassero, the youngest player in the field this week at 19 years old, kicked off proceedings at 0720 on Thursday morning alongside the American pair of Charles Howell III and Mark Brown and although there were placid conditions early in the first round – with bright sunshine and little wind the order of the day – the Italian struggled somewhat on his front nine, carding bogeys at the par four 13th and 18th after wayward drives at both.

Having turned in 38 blows, however, two-time European Tour Champion Manassero rallied on the front nine, making consecutive birdies on the first two holes after the turn before adding further red numbers at the short fifth and par five seventh.

Another disobedient driver at the ninth – his last – cost him an additional shot though unfortunately, but despite the late setback Manassero was satisfied with his opening efforts that left him just outside the top 20 as Thursday progressed.

“I am pretty happy with it because it felt like I had my C or D game out there at points today so one under par is pretty good,” Manassero reflected. “I managed to find a little fix for the swing that got me round. I was hooking the ball a little too much but I managed to keep battling and to finish one under was good.”

Even though Manassero is still just a tender 19 years old he seems to have been around for years, having become the youngest winner in European Tour history when he captured the Castelló Masters in October 2010 at 17 years and 188 days, a statistic that is all the more incredible considering almost two years later he is still regularly the youngest player in the field – as he is this week in South Carolina.

There hasn’t been a lot of championship golf, though, in recent times for the young Italian, and he admitted he felt a little rusty on the 7,626-yard par 72 monster.

“I haven't played for three weeks and while I have done some good practice it is just not the same as playing, especially in a Major. But, as I said, I am pretty happy with the score and I will go to the range and try to do some more work on the swing."