Matteo Manassero, Abu Dhabi’s global golf ambassador, continued his brilliant turnaround in form when he shot a five-under par 67 in the opening round and take the clubhouse lead at the 143rd Open Championship here at Hoylake.
The 21-year-old, winner of four titles on the European Tour, completed a good day for the Italians, as moments before, the Molinari brothers – Francesco and Edoardo – had finished on four-under par 68.
Manassero started in brilliant fashion, making a miracle birdie from the fairway bunker on the opening hole, and then made six more birdies taking advantage of the perfect scoring conditions in the morning.
“I am very, very pleased. It’s just the perfect start. As you all could see out there it was calm. It was just a really nice day to get off this Open Championship. So birdies were out there, but this golf course it’s not easy,” said Manassero, who dazzled the golfing world with his debut appearance as an amateur at the Open in 2009.
“You have to play really solid. You have to play smart a few times just to take your par and go. And then maybe attack if you’re playing well. And then, obviously, to make seven birdies, you need quite long putts to drop sometimes and a bit of luck.”
On his sensational birdie on the opening hole, Manassero added: “It was not a bit of genius off the tee, to hit it in the bunker. But then it was a good second shot.
“I did have a very good distance for a 9-iron. It was 160 to the pin. I hit a nice shot.”
Manassero, who finished tied-fourth at last week’s Scottish Open, said he felt he was on the verge of hitting top form a fortnight ago at the French Open, where he finished tied 48th.
“It goes back to before the Scottish Open and even to France. I knew I was playing quite solid even before France, which is really a demanding golf course, and I put some really nice rounds on that golf course,” added Manassero.
“For me it was a nice sign. It was a nice sign of a good game and that I could be confident about my game. I could trust it. And that was really important.
“Obviously the main preparation for The Open, I’ve done it in Aberdeen. And it was just the best preparation I could have had. We had strong wind, little wind, calm wind the last day.
"We had different directions of wind. And the course was firm. It was really linksy. So I just put myself in a very links frame of mind there.”
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