After T-8, Manassero heads home before Masters

Matteo Manassero during his first-round win at the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
Matteo Manassero during his first-round win at the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. ( Associated Press )

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Playing in his fourth consecutive PGA Tour start, 20-year-old Matteo Manassero finally showed an American audience flashes of the brilliance that have Europeans breathless about his potential.

Manassero’s T-8 at the Valspar Championship represents his best Tour finish to date. Is he hoping to play more here in the U.S., he was asked?

“It’s not really a goal right now,” Manassero said. “If it happens, it’s something I’ll probably take advantage of. But it’s not something I’m working on.”

He headed home to Italy for a few weeks off and then will warm up for the Masters at the Shell Houston Open. Manassero confirmed he plans to play the maximum of 12 Tour starts for a non-member. After the round, Manassero asked a Tour official if the ISPS Handa World Cup counted against the number of Tour starts he can make. (It doesn’t.)

After carding a tournament-high nine birdies in the first two rounds, Manassero’s putter let him down on the weekend in Tampa. He managed just three birdies the rest of the way.

“What we all want on Sunday is a chance to win the tournament – and I was standing in the middle of the fairway on No. 12 with a perfect 9-iron distance and I was 4 under par and 5 was leading,” he said. “I ended up missing a 4-footer for par and bogeying the next hole, too, and that’s it.”