After a top ten finish at Durban Country Club 12 months ago, Italy’s Matteo Manassero is hoping to repeat that fine form once again at the Volvo Golf Champions this week.
In 2013 the Italian finished in a tie for ninth, some seven shots behind crowd favourite Louis Oosthuizen, a performance that kick started a fine season for Manassero en route to a career best 11th place finish on The Race to Dubai.
The 6,689 yard layout in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal Province is one of the shorter courses on the European Tour Schedule, requiring accurate play from the tee as well as into the greens, which Manassero feels should play to his strengths after some good preparation over the winter which included a change of clubs to Callaway.
“I like this course,” said Manassero. “It's a layout that could suit my game pretty well as there's not many drivers off the tee and you have to be very smart. It's pretty much all about having confidence in how the ball starts from the tee, second shots aren’t easy, but you will have many birdie chances if you are in the fairway.”
“It has been kind of a short turnover from last season, but I tried to, first of all, relax a little bit. I went into the season last year a little bit tired and a little bit stressed so I was very tired at the end of the year, and I just wanted to relax at home.
“I got to do that but I wanted to work on my game too, to be ready for this week. I was able to do some work at home and then I went to Abu Dhabi for six days just before coming here to put in some very good practice.”
Manassero kicks his year off playing alongside one of the home favourites, Charl Schwartzel, in the penultimate group on the opening day.
“South African players are always crowd favourite in their country,” he said. “I don't know if it's because they really perform at their best in their country or because of the course or because of the grass or something. But they seem to always do well and I think that's great, and especially here. All of them are great players. I think you'll see there will be more than one in contention on Sunday for sure.”