In case you missed it, here are some nuggets from Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice rounds via my Golf.com post. First, Matteo Manassero returns to play in the Open Championship, but now he’s all grown up:
Two years ago, Matteo Manassero, then 16, made his Open debut at Turnberry and emerged as one of Europe’s most captivating stars. The Italian teenager kicked off the major by playing with five-time claret jug winner Tom Watson in the first two rounds.
The two reunited on the 18th green during the awards ceremony when Manassero became the youngest recipient of the Silver Medal for low-amateur honors after finishing tied for 13th. A month earlier, Manassero had won the British Amateur Championship.
“It feels good to be back at the Open,” said Manassero, 18, on Wednesday at the driving range. “It feels really different from two years ago. I know many people now, and I’m friends with some of the other players. It’s more comfortable.
“I’m professional this time. It’s a good opportunity in many ways, including jumping in the world rankings. While in ’09, it was just a brilliant experience. I didn’t expect much, but now there’s higher expectations and more on the line.”
*Edoardo Eats It
During his practice round on Wednesday, Molinari’s tee ball on the par-3 16th found the back left greenside bunker. He was attempting the shot when a gust blew the sand back into his face.
His swing coach Denis Pugh deadpanned, “I don’t think that’s what you want to do. The sand in the face thing is really a rookie error. You haven’t been on Tour that long, huh?”
The gallery of roughly 30 people erupted with laughter. A wincing Molinari was less amused, trying to rid the sand from his eyes and grabbing a towel from his caddie to wipe his face.
*Frazar Makes Open Debut
Frazar penned a first-person column in Sports Illustrated in March, revealing the angst of battling injuries and missing his family while on the road. He wondered if it was time for him to step away from professional golf.
Three months later, Frazar, who turns 40 at the end of the month, found himself in the winner’s circle at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic after holding off Robert Karlsson in a playoff. The check for just over $1 million helped him earn a trip to Royal St. George’s, finishing in the top two of the mini-money list on the PGA Tour.
“Winning in Memphis, it was about more than just winning,” said Frazar after a practice round for the Open on Tuesday. “It was about knowing I could compete in that arena if I play well.
“There was confidence. There was some real good stuff that came out of it. Hopefully that will buoy me though and improve the attitude and make me want to work harder.”
Flying across the pond to Sandwich has been a thrill.
*Quote of Tuesday
’97 Open champ Justin Leonard played a practice round with Open newbies Ryan Palmer, Harrison Frazar and Gary Woodland on Tuesday. Woodland looked frustrated as he struggled to adjust to links golf. On the 18th hole, Palmer’s caddie James Edmonson turned to Woodland and cracked, “Thanks for showing us where not to hit it all day.”
Woodland was a good sport and laughed, according to Palmer.