The Merchant of Venice
Golf is currently witnessing some of the ‘golden generation’ of golfers coming through from the amateurs and into the professional game. The likes of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day were paired with each other for the first two rounds at Augusta and proved to be a dangerous force. McIlroy leading for much of the way while Day ultimately the runner-up behind Charl Schwartzel.
But, despite the fairly justified hype around the names such as McIlroy, one man (term used loosely) has so far done better than this and isn’t even allowed to buy a drink (in the UK, he can in his homeland) for another two days.
Matteo Manassero is only 17. That is to put in some sort of context the same age as me (for two more days that is) and he’s done considerably more impressive things. To start things off, there is his first European Tour victory at the Castelló Masters Costa Azahar in Valencia, Spain, by four strokes at the tender age of 16 years, 11 months and 22 days. Then, just today, he defeated the resurgent McIlroy to win the Malaysian Open. His second win on the European Tour.
That is more than McIlroy has managed on the European Tour, that is more than Day and Fowler have won on the PGA Tour. He is three years younger than McIlroy and Fowler as well, better than them.
He’s even proven himself at major level. Winner of the Silver Medal at the 2009 Open Championship for being the lowest scoring amateur over the weekend. In the 2010 Masters, Manassero became the youngest person to make the cut at the tournament. He’s talented, and years of golf ahead of him.
It’s scary to think he is so young, almost reminiscent of Sergio Garcia’s breakthrough onto the scene in the late 90s. He’s going to be big, he’s going to go on and be a star, around the world. Probably not on the same level as Tiger Woods obviously, but be among the top people of the sport, and with golf as competitive as it has been for a very long time, he will be up there fighting for tour wins and major championships.
But, like Garcia, I’m worried he’s becomming too successful, too soon. Garcia effectively burnt out after Open Championship disaster in 2008. Same could happen for the young Italian effectively. This is not like football, there is not an age when you could put away your clubs, as proven many a time by Tom Watson and others, but he needs to make sure he is capable of producing such good form on a consistent basis.
Italian golf is ultimately looking up, along with Manassero is the Molinari brothers, winners of the World Cup in 2009, also big names in the world of golf. Matteo Manassero will go on to great things without a doubt, he is already on the path to being a successful golfer. He just needs to make sure it doesn’t go awry.