by Jeff Skinner
I feel sorry for all those so called golf fans that only watch golf when Tiger Woods plays. And I feel for those that only care about a golfer if he hails from the United States. They are missing the boat when it comes to golf this season. One of the most amazing and intriguing stories of the year, of many years for that matter, is playing out before our eyes in the form of seventeen year old, Italian, Matteo Manassero. He claimed is second European Tour victory yesterday at The Maybank Malaysian Open to back up his victory last year as the youngest player ever to win on the European Tour. He doesn’t turn eighteen until Tuesday. Two wins as a seventeen year old. That’s a career for many golfers.
Manassero was upset that he failed to qualify for The Masters but this win moves him to 35th in the World Rankings and almost insures he’ll make the fields at The U.S. Open, The Open Championship and The PGA. It’s not just that he is a good golfer; it’s the manner in which he conducts himself also. He plays with a calm demeanor that is more fitting of an older, mature veteran. Manasserro also realizes how fortunate he has been. “I couldn’t imagine anything better – going back home to celebrate my 18th birthday and my second victory on The European Tour. I’ll have a big dinner and celebrate both. It’s great to be able to celebrate both together. I’m just now concentrating on being in the top 50 now and getting into all the Majors. I’m very happy about this achievement.”
He also paid tribute to his hero Seve Ballesteros, “He is and will always be,” he said. “I grew up watching Costantino, Seve and Tiger. I thought Seve was the kind of player I wanted to be. The crowd was cheering for him and he was different to everyone else. He is a great person and a symbol of what a person should be. He sent me a letter after I won in Spain. That was nice.”
To be this good and this mature at seventeen is amazing. Manassero plays with the skill of a veteran and the poise of experienced champion. He’s having fun out there and he’s fun to watch. If all those “casual fans” would pay attention they’d see one remarkable golfer.