AUGUSTA, Ga. – Matteo Manassero could show guys twice his age a thing or two.
The 16-year-old from Italy became the youngest person ever to make the cut at the Masters, making three long par putts on the back nine Friday to finish at 3-over – right on the cutline. Manassero is now 2-for-2 at the major championships, having tied for 12th at last summer’s British Open.
“I always want to stay levelheaded since that’s the education that my parents gave me,” he said. “My parents help me also in this period to stay more level. But, you know, I dream for something like the Masters.”
So do older golfers, and they don’t have his track record.
Manassero, who last summer became the youngest winner in the 124-year history of the British Amateur, shattered Augusta National’s previous record for youngest player to make the cut. South African Bobby Cole was about a month shy of his 19th birthday when he made it in 1967. Manassero is also the first amateur to play the weekend since 1999.
And he’s the lone teenager out of the four in this year’s field to make the cut.
Ryo Ishikawa, who makes no secret of wanting to be the youngest Masters champion ever, had a chance to join Manassero. But the 18-year-old’s 15-footer burned the left edge of the cup on 18, leaving him one stroke short.
“Maybe,” Manassero said, when asked if he hopes to beat Ishikawa to the green jacket. “But I’m dreaming about being the Masters champion. At what age, I don’t mind, actually.”
Angel Cabrera made a 12-footer on 18 to avoid becoming the first defending Masters champion since Mike Weir in 2004 to miss the cut. Chad Campbell, who finished third in the playoff with Cabrera and Kenny Perry last year, also is sticking around after an impressive rebound.
After opening with a 79, Campbell fired a 4-under 68.
“I really didn’t know what it was yesterday,” Campbell said. “I was pretty upset. I just came out here today with a little bit different attitude and knew if I shot a good round I’d have a chance. I was lucky enough I did.”
Others weren’t quite so fortunate.
David Duval’s first trip back to the Masters since 2006 was a short one – he shot 76-75 to miss the cut by four. He hasn’t played the weekend here since he finished second in 2001, capping a four-year stretch during which he also finished second, third and sixth.
British Open champion Stuart Cink, who practically counts as a local since he lives in Atlanta, missed the cut by five strokes. Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington missed by two shots. Jim Furyk, who failed to make the cut only once in his previous 13 starts at Augusta, never recovered from his 80 in the first round. He finished at 12 over, and only four players fared worse.
And then there was Alvaro Quiros. He was at even-par with six holes to go – three strokes clear of the cut line – but closed double-bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey and yet another bogey. He did manage to make par on 18, but it was too late.
Manassero wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way he played, but he’ll take the result.
He had hoped his experience at last summer’s British Open would help him, and he did manage to make clutch putts when he had to. Knowing he was flirting with the wrong side of the cutline, Manassero saved pars on 12 and 15 with putts from beyond 20 feet.
But bogeys on two of his last three holes left him nervously watching the scoreboard. Even when he was told the cut was all but assured of staying at 3 over, he didn’t want to jinx it.
“Probably. I don’t want to,” he said, trailing off.
When someone suggested the word “presume,” Manassero brightened.
“OK, we presume it and I like this,” he said.
By sticking around for the weekend, Manassero will probably miss a few more days of school.
He’s turning pro next month and will finish his last two years of high school with a tutor or Online classes. But he will finish out the rest of the year at his local high school, where he’s just like any other student.
“It is difficult” to go back to school after a trip like this, Manassero said. “But it’s not as difficult as my friends that are going all days at school.”