Andersson Hed leads Italian Open


TURIN, Italy – Fredrik Andersson Hed shot 6-under 66 to move to 8-under and open a one-shot lead halfway through the Italian Open on Friday.

Within one shot of the Swede was a five-man group including Miguel Angel Jimenez, Alejandro Canizares and Ignacio Garrido of Spain, Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and Hennie Otto of South Africa.

However, all eyes this weekend will be on Italian teenager Matteo Manassero at the Royal Park Roveri on the outskirts of Turin.

On his professional debut, the 17-year-old shot a second successive 2-under 70 and immediately announced himself ready to challenge for his national title.

“I am not far off the lead,” Manassero said. “I am dreaming a little about winning this tournament and if I keep playing like this I could be close.

“I am very happy with how I am going. I have made my first cut and now I am in contention. I am playing well enough to be in contention and I am happy about my game heading into the weekend.”

Any lingering doubts about Manassero’s immense potential have been quickly erased in Turin. He would have been even closer to the lead but for one bad hole in his second round.

Having earlier climbed up the leaderboard with four birdies, Manassero drove into the rough at the par-4 16th, left his second shot in the penal long grass and put his approach to the green in a bunker to run a double bogey.

“That was my one bad hole,” he said. “But I felt my game was good enough to be five or six under at the end.”

There is one problem that could face Manassero on Sunday should he finish in the top 10 and qualify by right to play in next week’s Mallorca Open.

With his rookie professional status he is allowed only seven invitations to play on the European Tour this year, and needs extra tournaments in a bid to win a total of around $318,000 and earn his playing card for 2011.

But next week he is due back at school in Verona to sit his end-of-school-year exams.

In contrast to Manassero’s one bad hole, Andersson Hed’s round began sedately in steady rain and suddenly improved in the space of two holes.

At the par-4 14th he holed his 155-yard approach for an eagle and he followed with a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-3 15th.

“I think that is the first time in my career that I have had two successive twos on my card,” said the 38-year-from Halmstad, who was still looking for his first victory after 14 years on the European Tour.

“And the next hole, the 16th, was interesting, too. I put my approach in a bunker but my recovery shot actually landed in the hole but sadly the ball bounced out.”