While the majority of the golfing world’s superstars ply their trade in Muirfield Village this week, on the other side of the Atlantic, a superstar-in-the-making continues his charge on the game’s elite with a spectacular start at The Nordea Masters in Sweden.
Starting on the 10th hole, Matteo Manassero, winner of last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, continued where he left off on Sunday. The Italian took advantage of three par fives in his opening six holes and opened his account with an impressive six straight birdies.
Two more birdies and two bogeys resulted in a first round of 66 and a share of the lead alongside Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal. The pair hold a one-shot lead over a group of five players, in a tightly bunched field.
Manassero’s victory last weekend hoisted him to no. 28 in the latest World Rankings, and he now leads the Race To Dubai, the re-incarnation of the European Order Of Merit. Massive short game improvements and weight loss over the last year have played their parts in the 20-year-old’s ascendance.
In keeping with his Mediterranean neighbours, Manassero possesses Spanish-like creativity, imagination and a deftness of touch to match. Although this week’s Nordea Masters may not feature a stunning field, Manassero disposed of Europe’s finest last week and undoubtedly has the game to challenge on the biggest stage — that has already been proved.
As a 16-year-old amateur, Manassero finished tied-13th in the 2009 British Open. The following April, he tied for 36th at The Masters. He has made the cut in the last two U.S. Opens. He’s still just 20 years old, but has huge banks of experience to draw upon as he tees it up in this season’s remaining majors.
If you like a bet, there is some excellent value available on the young Italian for both the upcoming U.S. Open and the British Open. He’s got the experience and the game to be in the mix at either, and now he’s got the confidence too.