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Matteo Manassero ends long wait for fifth DP World Tour title

Matteo Manassero ends long wait for fifth DP World Tour title

Matteo Manassero ended his near 11-year wait for a fifth DP World Tour title with an emotional triumph at the Jonsson Workwear Open.

The Italian has experienced all the highs and lows that golf has to offer since becoming the DP World Tour's youngest winner at the age of 17 years and 188 days at the 2010 Castelló Masters Costa Azahar - a record he still holds.

When he lifted the trophy at the 2013 BMW PGA Championship for a fourth victory in as many seasons, he had the golfing world at his feet and it seemed impossible to think he would not win on the DP World Tour for another 3,942 days.

But five years later he found himself without full playing privileges and in the 18 starts he got in 2019, he made just a single cut, while also taking a brief break from golf completely.

A win on the Alps Tour in 2020 served as a boost to his confidence and last season he won twice on the European Challenge Tour to reclaim his card after five years away.

On Friday at Glendower Golf Club, he shot the lowest round of his career with a 61 to take the lead but the job was far from done, with five players holding at least a share of top spot on the back nine in round four.

A two-hour-and-27-minute storm delay as Manassero led by one on the 17th only added to the drama but the now 30-year-old closed out a 66 to finish at 26 under and once more enter the winner's circle, three shots ahead of local favourites Thriston Lawrence and Shaun Norris and England's Jordan Smith.

"This is the best day of my life on a golf course for sure," said Manassero, who finished his round with four birdies. "It's been a crazy journey over the last couple of years. I knew that I was getting on the right track but then you never know.

"Even coming down the 18th with a good tee-shot, you still have to do some work. Golf is a really difficult and tough game so I am just so incredibly happy to be here holding this (trophy) right now.

"I think I played really good golf today basically the whole round. It's really hard. The guys behind were playing some incredible golf and every time you look at the leaderboard there is a different name with more birdies.

"Every time during a round of golf you have some times that if you can go through them you see light and then the finish was amazing."

Oliver Bekker made a fast early move, leaving himself six feet at the first and then making a two-putt birdie on the par-five fourth to share the lead.

A tee-shot to five feet at the fifth then saw him lead alone but a run of seven pars followed as Manassero and Norris made moves.

Manassero holed an impressive left-to-righter on the fifth to join Bekker at the top and then a two-putt birdie at the par-five sixth put him ahead on his own once more.

Norris had water trouble at the first and fourth as he dropped shots but he made a seven-footer for birdie on the second, put his tee-shot to 15 feet at the fifth and took advantage of the sixth to stay in touch.

A beautiful approach on the tenth left a short putt that moved him within one before both he and Manassero played sublime bunker shots on the par-five 11th to get up and down for birdies.

Manassero could not repeat the trick to save par on the next and when Bekker broke his par run with the help of a close-range approach to the 13th, we had a three-way tie at the top.

Smith had bogeyed the third after finding the trees off the tee but he sandwiched a wonderful approach to seven feet at the seventh with two-putt birdies at the sixth and 11th to stay within one.

A chip-in at the 14th put him a four-way tie but they were all soon leapfrogged by the charging Lawrence.

The 27-year-old started the day six shots behind but eagled the sixth from 15 feet to go with birdies on the fourth, seventh, ninth, 13th, 14th and 16th to stalk the leaders.

He found the fairway bunker on the 17th but put a brilliant second to 15 feet for another eagle and he set the clubhouse target at 23 under.

Lawrence would not be alone for long, however, as Manassero, after initially looking like he thought he had found the water, put his tee-shot at the 15th to ten feet and then holed a 12-footer on the next to reclaim top spot.

The weather delay came after Manassero had hit his tee shot on the 17th and while he found the sand with his second just under two-and-a-half hours later, a stunning bunker shot to three feet handed him a two-shot lead heading down the last.

And with the daylight almost all gone, he holed an eight-footer on the 18th green for a fourth birdie in a row and ultimately comfortable win.

Norris and Smith both birdied the 17th to sign for rounds of 68, while Bekker also took advantage of the par five but double-bogeyed the last after finding the water to slip to 21 under after a 69.

Spaniard Angel Hidalgo carded a 68 to finish at 22 under, one shot clear of countryman Ivan Cantero, with Scot Connor Syme at 20 under.

This was the final week of the DP World Tour's International Swing, with Rory McIlroy - who won a third Rolex Series title at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and finished second at the Dubai Invitational - topping the standings.

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