HONG KONG – Italian teenager Matteo Manassero’s precocious rise to the top echelon of world golf took another step Friday when he shot an impressive 7-under 63 at the Hong Kong Open.The 17-year-old holed his putts impressively around the Fanling course to push himself into title contention against an impressive field at the joint European and Asian Tour event.
“The first day was 3 under, today was 7 under, probably just because of the putts, because the game was very similar perfect and pretty steady,” Manassero said. “I’m very happy with this round. That puts me in contention for the weekend and that’s actually what I wanted.”
Manassero became the youngest-ever winner on the European Tour last month when he took out his first professional title at the Castello Masters.
Manassero exudes the confidence of youth, putting that down to a blend of confidence and low expectations.
“I don’t expect too much out of me, so I don’t fear a lot on the golf course,” Manassero said.
“I’m confident, I’m playing good golf. I got my schedule playing for next year, everything already done. I just need to go and play.”
That confidence is leavened with the lessons learned from his family, to not let success go to his head – not an easy task after beating some of the world’s top pros while still a child.
“Just after the win, it’s difficult. You think you’re very good. Just after the win, you’re up in the sky,” Manassero said.
“You always try to keep your feet down in the ground, and that’s always been my family, that gave me education and educated me that way, which is very important for me, for this life, everybody.”
Life as a professional has increased the time Manassero spends away from friends and family in Italy but, after sampling the life of a touring player while still an amateur, he is adapting to the demands of playing on tour.
“It’s part of the life,” he said. “You have to travel, say, 25 events per year, plus some extra weeks. So we travel 30 weeks; more traveling than staying home.
“I traveled a little bit as an amateur, which was important, was a good experience. And now, one thing is that everybody takes care of everything for us, which is very important.”