Europe is calling up its brightest new star to take on Asia’s young guns in the fifth edition of the Royal Trophy next month.
The latest addition to Colin Montgomerie’s European team is Italian prodigy Matteo Manassero, recent winner of the Sir Henry Cotton award as the European Tour’s rookie of the year.
Manassero, 17, will compete against two other teenagers at Black Mountain Golf Club in Thailand’s coastal city of Hua Hin from Jan. 7-9, when he faces an Asian team featuring Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and Seung-yul Noh of Korea, both 19.
Manassero turned professional after making his Masters debut in April, and became the youngest winner in European Tour history when he claimed the Castello Masters in October.
Manassero’s victory also made him the youngest player to qualify as a full member of the European Tour, surpassing Spanish great Seve Ballesteros. Ballesteros was 17 years and 200 days old when he qualified for European Tour membership in 1974 –12 days older than Manassero.
“Just to be mentioned in the same breath as Seve is humbling, and difficult to comprehend,” Manassero said.
“I know all about Seve’s role in founding the Royal Trophy and that made it even more of an honor when I was asked to represent Europe. . . It is an unexpected privilege, and a bit of a daunting prospect if I’m honest – but it’s also pretty cool.”
The teen joins Edoardo Molinari, Peter Hanson and Henrik Stenson on Montgomerie’s eight-man team. Kyung-tae Kim, Yuta Ikeda, Shunsuke Sonoda and Wen-chong Liang have also confirmed their places on the Asian side.
The biennial event is played in Ryder Cup style, with four foursomes matches on Friday, four four-ball matches on Saturday and eight singles on Sunday. Europe has won three of the four previous editions of the Royal Trophy.