Matteo the man for Merion?

12/06/2013 16:10:53
 Matteo Manassero   (Getty Images)
Matteo Manassero (Getty Images)

For a player who only turned 20 in April, Matteo Manassero has already achieved much in his relatively short career, but the Italian feels he is now ready to step up again and contend in this week’s US Open Championship.

Victory in The European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, three weeks ago, was another stride towards Manassero fulfilling his dream of one day becoming a Major Champion, building on the record three European Tour victories he claimed as teenager.

He believes that experience of holding off one of the strongest European Tour fields of 2013 at Wentworth, including 11 of the victorious Ryder Cup Team, was the perfect confidence boost ahead of competing in his third consecutive US Open.

“Winning the BMW PGA has given me a big lift,” he said. “I wasn’t playing that well, but it was such a special week and ended a great week.

“It was the flagship event so Wentworth always has something special and, to me, winning our main event meant a lot. It had such a strong field this year with all the Ryder Cup players, and it was a great title to win ahead of coming here.

“I am really looking forward to this week, of course, as once you can put yourself into Majors it is always good and the way I have played the last three weeks has been great. I am in fine form and really looking forward to playing this week, to teeing up on Thursday and seeing what happens.”

With four players under the age of 20 in the field at Merion this week, Manassero will, for once, not be the youngest player teeing it up. Neither is he the longest hitter among the 156-strong field, but with Merion playing at only 6,996 yards – the first US Open venue under 7,000 yards in more than a decade – Manassero is hopeful that his accuracy can one again prove decisive on the big stage.

“You have to be sharp off the tee and with your wedges here,” he said. “I think it could suit me but basically it just suits whoever hits the ball well this week. Being this soft it is not going to be about bounce, it is just going to be about hitting good shots.

“The ball will stop and then it’s about putting and chipping. The US Open is always a real challenge and it will be again this year. I think it could suit me as there are a lot of holes you have short clubs in. If you have a ball on the fairway, that will be so important, as on the long par fours we have a chance hit the greens and make par and on the shorter ones you can actually make birdies. But you have to be on the short stuff or it will be really difficult to hit any green. And regardless of whether you are on the fairway or not, the greens are sloped and quick and not going to be easy.”

Manassero has already had a taste of being on the leaderboard at Majors, having finished tied 13th as an amateur at The 2009 Open Championship and tied 36th in the Masters Tournament the following year.

With his biggest victory to date still fresh in the mind, Manassero is already looking towards the next phase of his remarkable young career.