Italian am Manassero shines in Scotland

Sixteen-year-old amateur Matteo Manassero tees off from the 4th tee on the third day of the 138th British Open Championship at Turnberry Golf Course

Sixteen-year-old amateur Matteo Manassero tees off from the 4th tee on the third day of the 138th British Open Championship at Turnberry Golf Course

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TURNBERRY, Scotland – Matteo Manassero shot a 1-under 69 in the final round of his British Open debut just six weeks after the 16-year-old Italian won the British Amateur.

Manassero also had rounds of 71, 70 and 72 at the tricky Turnberry links to finish tied for 13th. He said his game was helped by playing the first two rounds alongside 59-year-old Tom Watson, the five-time Open champion who gave the young player plenty of advice.

The teenager from Verona finished 2-over 282 on Sunday and became the youngest winner of the silver medal for amateurs since it was introduced 60 years ago.

“Playing with Tom Watson I grew up a little bit,” Manassero said. “Even if he didn’t say something to you, even if he didn’t give you advice, you have grown up just watching him. It was great.”

Manassero made five birdies in his final round and would have finished with an even better score if he hadn’t bogeyed two of the last three holes.

“The last six weeks (since winning the Amateur title) I have been playing good,” he said. “I was very happy about this experience. Today was a good round and I’m going to leave with the silver medal, which is special for me, a great achievement.”

A fan of AC Milan, Manassero wore the blue colors of the Italian soccer team during the tournament and conceded that, even if he became a successful golfer, he would never achieve the fame of the soccer stars.

“I love football,” he said. “In Italy it’s impossible (to be as famous) because football stars are always better than the others and everyone talks more about football stars than every other sport.

“To get close to one of them would be great.”

Manassero said his idol in golf was three-time Open champion Seve Ballesteros. As a 4-year-old, he chipped with the Spanish great at the Italian Open.

Asked why he had done so well at Turnberry, Manassero said his coach and caddie, Alberto Binaghi, had encouraged him to play on links courses.

“We used to play a lot on links courses,” said Manassero, who has played several amateur events in Britain. “Our national team coach wanted us to play on links courses into the wind and I am always getting more comfortable. I have a low trajectory and I am comfortable with this type of golf.”

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