2009 Champion Manassero recalls Amateur victory

Manassero kisses the Amateur Championship Trophy at Formby in 2009.Last year’s Amateur Champion Matteo Manassero recently recalled his triumph at Formby and West Lancashire golf clubs last year, a victory which kick-started an incredible year for the 17-year-old Italian.

“It was a great achievement for me,” said Manassero, who, at the age of 16, became the youngest winner in the 125-year history of the Championship. “I wasn’t there with expectations to win it but just make the cut and then go as well as I could, but then it all came true and I won.

“It was a really good week and I really enjoyed it, obviously. If you achieve a thing you’ve always dreamed of, and at such a young age, that’s good.”

In achieving that feat, the Veronese’s name was etched alongside his childhood heroes like 1984 Amateur Champion Jose Maria Olazabal and 1998 Champion Sergio Garcia.

“To win at a younger age [than them] makes you feel that you have done better than they have done. It lets you think that you are able to play like them, to be a good golfer. It’s great.”

Manassero stands next to Tom Watson with his Open Championship Silver Medal at Turnberry.As Amateur Champion, Manassero received an exemption into the 2009 Open Championship and an invitation to the 2010 Masters Tournament, opportunities that he would seize. He finished tied-13th at Turnberry and tied-36th at the Masters, before achieving tied-29th and tied-17th results at the Italian Open and the BMW PGA Championship respectively, his first two events as a professional.

“It’s special to play in Majors, especially at 16 years old. You don’t actually know where you are! But it was very special and I really enjoyed it.

“My plan was to turn professional after school and I turned professional two years and a half before finishing school, so I’m definitely earlier than what I thought. But I did it because of the results that I have achieved and obviously winning the Amateur and, from then, more came true.”

Over the past 12 months, the Italian’s play has attracted compliments from the highest level of the game, including from the aforementioned Sergio Garcia, winner of the Amateur Championship the last time it was held at Muirfield, in 1998.

“I had the pleasure of playing with him at The Open last year,” said the Spaniard. “It’s the beginning of a new career for him, but he’s a wonderful golfer. He’s going to develop into an even better one as he grows up, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does."

The Italian recieves the Masters Tournament Silver Cup from Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne.Before turning professional, however, Manassero occupied first position in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for a period of 18 weeks.

“Especially to pass as a professional, being first in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – I stayed first in the Ranking for a few months – it feels good. It feel’s that you’ve had a good amateur career and you can be ready to turn professional.”

And despite being just 17, as an Amateur Champion and a promising professional, he is well-qualified to offer advice to those trying to follow in his footsteps at Muirfield and North Berwick this week.

“On the golf course, to be patient is the most important thing you can achieve. To be nervous – it’s the most difficult. It’s the thing that’s opposite to golf. You have to be patient on the golf course and let things come.”

The Amateur Championship is underway at Muirfield and North Berwick. 288 players are playing two rounds of stroke play, one each at Muirfield and North Berwick, before 64 players and ties progress to the match play rounds beginning tomorrow at Muirfield.