Manassero makes the right start

Manassero makes the right start

The latest Italian to make the Ryder Cup was outshone in Switzerland today by the 17-year-old very likely to be the next one.

Edoardo Molinari followed up his Gleneagles victory and wild card call-up with a 66 when the Omega European Masters began at Crans-sur-Sierre.

But Matteo Manassero, last year’s British amateur champion, matched the lowest round of his short professional career by grabbing seven birdies for a seven under par 64.

The talented teenager – 13th in the 2009 Open and 36th at The Masters in April - leads England’s Graeme Storm and Finn Mikko Ilonen by one.

Manassero is trying to become the youngest winner in European Tour history, but would happily settle for earning enough to avoid the dreaded qualifying school in November.

A top five finish could do that after receiving the sixth of the seven invitations he is allowed this season.

“It was a perfect round of golf and a great start to a tournament that is very important to me,” said the Verona player, whose other start will be the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next month.

Asked about Molinari and his brother Francesco both making Europe’s side for the coming match at Celtic Manor Manassero added: “It’s a big inspiration for me and all the guys growing up in Italy.

“It’s unbelievable what they are doing. I watched Edoardo’s win on Sunday - it was beautiful.”

Storm and Ilonen are also former British amateur champions and they have already gone on to European Tour success.

Winner of the French Open three years ago, Storm came back from an opening bogey with seven birdies, while Ilonen, with victories in Indonesia and Sweden to his name, sank a bunker shot on his final hole to join him in second place.

Molinari, who is taking three weeks off after this event to rest and then prepare for his cup debut, did not drop a stroke, but was lucky at the long 15th when his pulled third shot was pulled into the trees, but came out just short of the green.

He was playing with twice Open champion Greg Norman, the 55-year-old Australian managing only a four over 75 on his long-awaited return 12 months after shoulder surgery.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, the only other member of Europe’s side in the field, had a 67, the same as cup vice-captain Darren Clarke.

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