Horrendous playing conditions finally gave way to blue skies and sunshine at Wentworth on Sunday as Matteo Manassero became the youngest ever winner of the BMW PGA Championship.
At just 20 years of age, the Italian posted a final round 69 to join England’s Simon Khan and Scotland’s Marc Warren in a three way play-off. Warren found the trees from the tee on the first extra hole, and was eliminated shortly afterwards.
It took another three holes to separate Manassero and Khan, with the Englishman finally coming to grief when his approach to 18 found water. Having found the green with his approach, Manassero enjoyed the luxury of a lagged putt and the shortest of tap-ins to earn his fourth European Tour victory.
Manassero now leads the Race To Dubai, and victory at this European Tour flagship event will do wonders for his confidence. His stats this year so far have been very solid, hitting in the region of 70 percent of all fairways and greens. There has been a notable improvement in the young Italian’s short game, having increased his sand save percentage from 48 percent two years ago to an excellent 74 percent this year.
European Tour players have been fully aware of the young man’s talents for some time, and there is no doubt that he is maturing nicely into a player that has both incredible raw talent and a work ethic that will see him climb to the highest levels in the sport. The fact that he’s tall, tanned and handsome won’t hurt his credentials off course, as he is extremely marketable and likable.
I have no doubt that this guy’s got a huge future ahead of him. A Ryder Cup debut beckons in 2014, but he could announce himself on the world stage before then if his performance this weekend is an accurate measure of his progress.