Golf-Manassero, 17, becomes youngest Euro Tour winner

Reuters

Sun, 24 Oct 20:59:00 2010

* Italian teenager romps to four-shot win

* Hot back-nine seals victory

* Being compared to the young Ballesteros (adds quotes, Ballesteros comparison)

Italy's Matteo Manassero, 17, became the European Tour's youngest winner when he captured the Castello Masters title by four shots on Sunday.

The previous youngest Tour winner was New Zealand's Danny Lee who was 18 when he triumphed at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia in February 2009.

Manassero, aged just 17 and 188 days, started the final round two shots behind leader Gary Boyd but a red-hot homeward nine and a collapse by the Briton set up victory for the teenager.

He closed with a four-under 67 for a 16-under total of 268 to win comfortably from Spain's Ignacio Garrido (68) whose late spurt earned second place.

"It feels fantastic, I've always worked for this moment and I've finally done it," Manassero told Sky Sports.

"I was very nervous at the start and I didn't have a great time of it from the eighth to the 11th but then I hit some great shots coming in.

"The key was saving par with a great putt on the 12th. From 12 to 15 I made the most of this tournament," added Manassero who had trailed Boyd by two strokes with six holes to play.

MISSED PUTT

The teenager, who missed a 15-inch birdie putt at the par-five eighth, strung together three successive birdies from the 13th and Englishman Boyd's sudden loss of form made the closing holes fairly simple.

The youngster from Verona is already being talked about as a young Seve Ballesteros, who similarly exploded on the golf scene as a 17-year-old.

Manassero said he was proud to be compared with golfing great Ballesteros, who won his first title at 19.

"Seve is my idol and I am conscious that the way I play makes people compare me with him," Manassero told a news conference. "But Seve was just unique, I am a different player."

Manassero only turned professional at the Italian Open in May.

"This is unbelievable, I've achieved this much earlier than I thought (I would)," he said after picking up a first prize of $466,000. "This will open up many more doors for me next year.

"I couldn't imagine winning in my first year. I was just trying to make my card."

Boyd, who shot a course-record equalling 63 on Saturday, slumped to a 74 to share third place with Dutchman Joost Luiten, Ireland's Peter Lawrie and Swede Christian Nilsson at 11-under.

The Briton's challenge evaporated at the par-three 16th where he found water and carded a double-bogey five.

Jose Maria Olazabal, making a rare appearance after struggling with rheumatic problems, was disqualified for signing for a five on the 17th when he had taken a six.

The Spaniard had finished well down the field following a closing 77.

 

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