Matteo Manassero is looking to become only the second back-to-back winner on The European Tour this season at the UBS Hong Kong Open, but believes he has the perfect playing partner to learn consistency from in World Number One Rory McIlroy.
The 19 year old Italian beat Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off at last week’s Barclays Singapore Open to become the first teenager to win three European Tour titles.
Manassero was not the only one celebrating at Sentosa, however, as McIlroy secured The Race to Dubai title with his third place finish.
“We are playing together so we'll have time to speak,” said Manassero. “Let's just say we both owe each other a drink.
“When I think of Rory, I think of an impossible game to imitate. He's so good. He plays probably the best game in the world, so it's difficult to imitate.
“He's got a great game and he's always ahead of almost everybody when he comes into a week, but still is able to concentrate and score well, which is a difficult thing.
“That's why I think he's Number One in the world. His game has been Number One in the world for a while now, but has been able now to put the scores together every week, and that's what every player should look up to him for.
“Everybody expects him to play perfect every week, and to score well every week, and that's not easy, even if you have the best game in the world. He's been able in the last probably two years to do that. When he wants, he's always up there - that's really tough.”
Manassero’s victory was a marathon effort, as The European Tour’s youngest ever winner having to play almost his entire third round as well as the fourth round and a three-hole play-off on a grueling Sunday in humid conditions.
Yet he insists there is plenty left in the tank as he looks to move into the top ten on The Race to Dubai to earn a slice of the bonus pool.
“It's always a very nice feeling when everybody comes to you and says congratulations,” he added.
“I was feeling a little tired today. I had all Monday to rest, which was important. Yesterday, I took a good look at the front nine, then played the Pro-Am today.
“To win a tournament takes a lot of energy out, but especially a week like that, it was extremely tiring. So it has been an adjustment a little bit and I need to save some energy for these next four days and for Dubai next week.
“My aim at the start of the season was finishing in the top 30 (of The Race to Dubai) and that's done.
“So that's great, but if I can add another one, it would be nice to try and get in the top ten. That would be a big achievement - a really, really big achievement.
“I couldn't imagine I would even come close to doing it, and now I can definitely do it. That's the goal, but there's not really any pressure. If it comes, great; if it doesn't, it's been a good season, anyway.”
Branden Grace is the only other player to have won back to back titles this season, at the Joburg Open and the Volvo Golf Champions.