17-Year-Old Matteo Manassero Wins, Touted as Next Seve
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

Manassero, the youngest-ever winner on European Tour

WUP’s European expert Conor has his thoughts on the Italian teen, but it’s his girlfriend’s birthday tonight so I gave him the night off (I know, I’m such a generous boss!). Look out for a more informed and opinionated post from him tomorrow.

With his win at the Castello Masters, Matteo Manassero made another mark in the history books. At 17 years and 188 days, the Italian teenager is the youngest player to win a European Tour. Poor Danny Lee of New Zealand held the record for less than two years as he won the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2008.

Between all the golf I played and baseball I watched, the only golf I saw was when I walked by a TV at Aronimink and spotted Manassero on 17 with a four-stroke lead. Nice, I thought. I’ve been a fan of the kid since the British Open last year when he played magnificently alongside Tom Watson. Manassero had actually qualified for the Open when he set the record as youngest to win the ’09 British Amateur at 16.

Manassero beat Spain’s Ignacio Garrido by four strokes with a winning total of 16-under on Sunday. Afterward, he was at a loss to find celebrate and spend his earnings of $530,000:

I am too young to have a drink, I am too young to drive so I will not be buying a car and I have not got a girlfriend who would like a present.

But this was my first chance to win a tournament, which I never thought would come so quickly and to do it is unbelievable. My first aim when I turned professional was to win enough money to keep my card for next year and I achieved that in September.

The victory also earns him a full European Tour card for 2011, trumping the previous record set by Spain’s beloved Seve Ballesteros by just 12 days. And pundits have appointed Manassero as Europe’s next Seve.

“Seve Ballesteros has always been my idol,” says Manassero. “His personality and what he has done for golf and the tournaments that he won and they way he won them was different to other golfers.

Manssero will play in HSBC World Championship in Shanghai next week — if he can get a visa in time.