Relentless Manassero marches on

5/31/2013 5:25:00 PM
Matteo Manassero   (Getty Images)
Matteo Manassero (Getty Images)
Matteo Manassero continued his love affair with the back nine at Bro Hof Slott to take a two shot halfway lead at the Nordea Masters.

The 20 year old Italian, who last weekend became the BMW PGA Championship’s youngest winner, had five birdies in his inward 31 for a 65 that left him 13 under for the week.

Ten of those shots gained have come on the back nine, where Manassero registered five birdies on day two.

In-form Finn Mikko Ilonen, a runner-up in China and Morocco recently, needed only 30 strokes coming home in his 63 to lie second on 11 under, with Scotland’s Pete Whiteford third on ten under after a 63 of his own in the morning session.

Manassero already had three birdies and a bogey on his card when he struck his tee shot to four feet at the 11th for another gain.

The only player to win three European Tour titles as a teenager then recovered from a poor drive to birdie the par five 12th, played a wedge to five feet at the long next and holed from 12 feet at the next for four birdies in a row.

The scoring did not stop there, the World Number 28 and Race to Dubai leader firing his tee shot to six feet at the island green signature 17th.

“It was nice after the start to be able to come back and shoot another great score, so I’m glad the way the day has gone,” said Manassero.

“I like that nine – they are holes where you can gain or lose many shots, and if you can gain it’s a big gap. The conditions are absolutely perfect.”

Ilonen had two hat-tricks of birdies, finishing his superb nine under par round with an approach to five feet at the last.

Meanwhile Australian Andrew Dodt made a piece of European Tour history as he became the first player to have two holes-in-one in a single round.

Dodt aced the seventh and 11th but remarkably still needed a birdie at the last to squeeze into the weekend, his 65 sneaking him through on the mark at two under after an opening 77.

“The shot at the 11th, my second, kick-started things,” said Dodt, who was given a box of champagne by the tournament sponsors. “I made a few more birdies in between, then a couple of bogeys and I was heading the wrong way when I got to the seventh, our 16th hole.

“It was an eight iron, felt a little bit heavy at the start, but right on line and it went in. I can’t get my head around it – I’m pretty proud to be the first one to do it. 

“I had seven before today. The 11th I was pretty still and it was the perfect club for a six iron, little draw, and it was slam dunk straight in the hole. 

“I didn’t putt very well today so I’m glad I was able to hole with a long club!” 

Ballantine’s Championship runner-up Whiteford turned in 33, dropped his only shot of the day at the tenth then birdied the 12th and 13th.

A pitch-in eagle at the par five 15th sparked a remarkable finish, and the 32 year old did not need to hole a putt longer than five feet as he birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th after some marvellous approach play.

"I have been swinging pretty well over the past month but today was special," said Whiteford. 

"It was near perfect conditions and the golf course is in great shape."

Dutchman Joost Luiten sits fourth on nine under following a 67, with Jonas Blixt and 2011 winner Alex Noren leading the home challenge on eight under alongside first round joint-leader Pablo Larrazábal.