Manassero says 2010 Omega European Masters "biggest week of his career"

Manassero says 2010 Omega European Masters "biggest week of his career"
Matteo Manassero has credited his third-place finish at last year's Omega European Masters as the most significant week of his career to date.

That result propelled the 18-year-old Italian up the rankings and gave him a guaranteed place on this year's tour.

Manassero was battling to secure a tour card when he arrived in Switzerland 12 months ago, but two wins since have seen him leap to number 30 in the world.

Now, as he returns to the same course for the 2011 edition of the tournament this weekend, the 18-year-old Italian is looking forward to the challenge of ending up even higher on the leader board.

"Crans is a special place for me," he said. "It was my first podium finish on the European Tour and to get my card with that was great. It was an exciting experience and I am glad to be back here with people now thinking I can win the event. There are some more expectations this year but I'm looking forward to it."

Speaking about his 2010 performance, he remarked: "It's probably the most important week of my career. If you had to pick one week it was probably even more important than my win because it made my year easier."

The youngster went on to suggest that all of the success he has enjoyed in the last 12 months started from his performance in Switzerland, as it took a lot of pressure off his shoulders and allowed him to enjoy his golf.

Last year's Ryder Cup winning captain Colin Montgomerie has backed Manassero to become the youngest-ever player to seal a place on the team.

Jose Maria Olazabal will captain the side in Chicago next year, as Europe look to retain the trophy they won at Celtic Manor.

"I'd expect him to make it," the Scot said.

Meanwhile, US Open champion Rory McIlroy had another reason to celebrate this week after he was handed the European Tour Shot of the Month award for the second month running.

The Northern Irishman claimed the gong with an outrageous second shot on the par-four 14th at the Irish Open, hitting to within 12 feet from behind a tree in the heavy rough.

McIlroy was modest when it came to assessing his shot, however, saying: "To be honest all I was trying to do was to get it in the front bunker. But I caught it really nicely and it was definitely one of the best shots I've ever hit."

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