Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Manassero makes his Presence Known

Italy’s Matteo Manassero is today named The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year for 2010 following a record-breaking start to his professional career highlighted by him becoming the youngest player to win in the history of The European Tour. Manassero launched his professional career in the BMW Italian Open at the beginning of May and in 14 starts since then has won the CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar at the age of 17 years and 188 days; earned €890,401 to finish in 31st place in The 2010 Race to Dubai; and played 54 rounds for which he was 73 under par with only seven scores over 72. “It is a big honour to win the Rookie of the Year award,” said Manassero, who follows many of golf’s greatest names such as Sir Nick Faldo, Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle, José Maria Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie, as well as many of today’s biggest stars including Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Europe’s new Number One, The Race to Dubai winner Martin Kaymer, as a recipient of the Award. “I never expected to win on Tour so quickly and to win the Rookie of the Year Award is a perfect way to end my first season as a professional. It is such a special award because you only get one chance to win it so it is a great honour. “When you see the amazing players that have won the Award in the past, you see how important these players were in golf’s history and to have your name beside them is exciting.“Then you see that Martin Kaymer won the Rookie of the Year only three years ago and now he is the Number One in Europe after winning The Race to Dubai. I hope I can follow in Martin’s footsteps one day.” Manassero creates another piece of history by becoming the first Italian to win the Award which is judged by The R&A, the Association of Golf Writers and The European Tour. He is also the tenth golfer from Continental Europe and 46th recipient in total of The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award which was launched in 1960. He became the youngest winner of the Amateur Championship in 2009, and the youngest player to claim the Silver Medal for leading amateur in The Open Championship that same year when he finished tied 13th at Turnberry. In April of this year he became the youngest amateur to compete in the Masters Tournament and, furthermore, the youngest player to make the halfway cut. He created another record when in only his 11th European Tour event as a professional he achieved his maiden victory at the CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar at the age of 17 years and 188 days to become the youngest winner in the Tour’s history, beating the previous record of New Zealand’s Danny Lee who won the Johnnie Walker Classic aged 18years and 213 days in 2009. Manassero also became the youngest person to become a full European Tour Member, surpassing the legendary Seve Ballesteros who was 17 years and 200 days when he joined the Tour at the end of the 1974 season. Manassero was not without competition for The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award with the English trio of Gary Boyd, James Morrison, winner of the Madeira Islands Open BPI - Portugal, and John Parry, who captured the Vivendi Cup 2010, all enjoying excellent first seasons. But it was the 25 year old Welshman Rhys Davies, who graduated from the 2009 European Challenge Tour alongside Boyd and Parry, who provided the sternest challenge to Manassero as he climbed to 18th in The Race to Dubai during an outstanding season which included a victory in the Trophée Hassan II tournament. George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “Matteo’s arrival on The European Tour coincided with what many observers of the game regard as the most exciting season in our history. He has increased the interest in golf, especially with youngsters in Europe, and indeed throughout the world. He is another exceptionally outstanding winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

McDowell's Ryder Cup Reward

Graeme McDowell’s heroic 20 foot birdie putt at the 16th hole of his Ryder Cup singles match against Hunter Mahan has secured the Northern Irishman The European Tour Shot of the Month Award for October. The 2010 Ryder Cup had come down to the bottom single at The Celtic Manor Resort, and McDowell rose to the challenge by sinking that crucial birdie putt before wrapping up a trophy-winning 2 and 1 victory on the 17th. All square with three to play, McDowell knew that European hopes of regaining The Ryder Cup lay firmly and squarely on his shoulders. A halved match with Mahan would have resulted in a 14-14 tie and enabled the United States to keep the cup on their side of the Atlantic. However, the 2010 US Open Champion held his nerve and after finding the putting surface at the 16th McDowell stepped up to the mark and holed that slick downhill 20 footer for a birdie three to effectively puncture Mahan’s challenge. McDowell said: “The 16th was massive. It was a fast putt and I just had to get the ball going. Thankfully it caught the edge of the hole and dropped. I can honestly say it was the best putt I've hit in my life. “I had a massive amount of emotions going through my head, especially when I realised that my match was going to be hugely important. As my teammates started filtering back to me out on the course I found that Rickie Fowler had just halved his match, and a half wasn't good enough in my game any more. “I was really nervous over every shot. I think the 16th was the greatest second shot and the greatest putt I've ever hit in my career. It was just an amazing feeling.” In second place was Martin Kaymer’s superb second shot off the tarmac road at the 18th hole at the Old Course, St Andrews, with the resulting birdie securing a third title of the year, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Third was Matteo Manassero’s approach to the 14th in the final round of the CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar, which helped pave the way for the Italian teenager to collect his first European Tour title. The Shot of the Month is awarded to the Tour Member for the stroke judged to be the best played each month on The European Tour International Schedule. At the end of next week’s Race to Dubai, the winning shot from each month will be nominated for The European Tour Shot of the Year Award, which will be announced at the end of December. The monthly winners to date in 2010 have been Martin Kaymer of Germany (January and August), England’s Ian Poulter (February), Noh Seung-yul of Korea (March), Lee Westwood of England (April), England’s Luke Donald (May), McDowell of Northern Ireland (June and October), Miguel Angel Jiménez of Spain (July) and Edoardo Molinari (September).