Once A Prodigy, Matteo Manassero Earns First Tour Win In 11 Years

EDENVALE, South Africa (AP) — Matteo Manassero broke through with his first European tour win in nearly 11 years on Sunday, shooting 6-under 66 after a storm delay for a three-stroke victory at the Jonsson Workwear Open.

Once a prodigy in European golf, the now 30-year-old Italian picked up his fifth European tour win by making four birdies in his last four holes to finish at 26 under for the tournament in South Africa.

Thriston Lawrence (63), Shaun Norris (68) and Jordan Smith (68) ended in a tie for second.

Manassero became the European tour’s youngest winner at the age of 17 years and 188 days in 2010 at the Castelló Masters Costa Azahar in Spain. He won four times in a three-year stretch to start his career, with one of the victories coming at the tour’s flagship event — the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

“This is the best day of my life on a golf course for sure,” he said. “It’s been a crazy journey over the last couple of years. I knew that I was getting on the right track but then you never know.”

Manassero was leading by one shot on the 17th when storms prompted a delay of almost 2 1/2 hours in the final round at Glendower Golf Club.

“Even coming down the 18th with a good tee shot, you still have to do some work,” he said. “Golf is a really difficult and tough game so I am just so incredibly happy to be here holding this (trophy) right now.”

Manassero, currently ranked No. 381, had struggled since those first four victories and dropped off the European tour. He only regained his card at the end of last year after some time on the second-tier Challenge Tour.

Manassero shot a career-best 11-under 61 in Friday’s second round.

It was the third consecutive week for the European tour in Africa, and the second week of a co-sanctioned event with the Sunshine Tour.

The European tour will have five tournaments in Asia before starting the European portion of its schedule in late May.