Matteo Manassero (Getty Images)
Even his regular record-breaking exploits could not prepare Matteo Manassero for his fantastic start at the Nordea Masters as the Italian shared the first round lead with Pablo Larrazábal.
The 20 year old, who on Sunday became the youngest winner of the BMW PGA Championship and is the youngest European Tour winner, started with six straight birdies at Bro Hof Slott en route to a six under par 66.
“I’ve never started that well - it was a great start,” he said. “I was making putts and to start like that was strange because I’m not used to it.”
After his blistering start a bogey at the 17th was wiped out by a birdie from ten feet at the first and the four-time European Tour winner produced stunning chips at the second and third to scramble par.
There was a second dropped shot of the day at the fifth, but Manassero responded with a magnificent pitch to within a foot at the next to set up a tap-in birdie and sit alongside Spain’s Larrazábal at the top of the leaderboard.
Afterwards Manassero insisted there was no lingering tiredness from his exploits at Wentworth Club last week.
“I’ve been tired but I woke up and I felt good,” he added. “It’s a tough course when the wind picks up so I think every afternoon is going to be hard.”
The highlight of Larrazábal’s round came with a 40 foot birdie at the fifth, one of seven in the in-form Spaniard’s round.
“I played great, I was five under after ten,” said Larrazábal - who has had four top-12 finishes in his last five events.
“I made birdies on the par fives and held my score. It wasn't easy; the golf course is playing okay this morning but you can make a double or triple bogey. I played safe when I had to and more aggressive when I could.”
All the best scoring was done in the morning session, with Wales’ Jamie Donaldson completing a flawless 67 to sit alongside Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed and English pair Chris Lloyd and Simon Wakefield in the clubhouse on five under.
Only one player form the afternoon could match that score. Home favourite and 2011 winner Alex Noren birdied three of his last four holes - the 18th after a brilliant pitch to two feet - to make it a five-way tie for third.
“It was a tough front nine,” said Noren. “I hit the driver good but didn’t hit the greens I wanted. Then I made birdie on 11 and mentally it was a very nice birdie so it gave me a very nice rhythm.
“To the eye it looks like you can go for everything and what I’ve learned from this course is if you play a bit more conservatively on the par fives – if you’re on the green you will probably make a birdie.”