x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Longer he hits the more durable Matteo Manassero is

The Italian teenager has hitting farther off the tee after making changes to his game and it is finally showing.

Matteo Manassero had to rely heavily on his short game until recent times. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images
Matteo Manassero had to rely heavily on his short game until recent times. Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

In a week when Rory McIlroy confirmed his domination of the golfing landscape, Matteo Manassero offered a telling reminder that the game's gleaming future will not revolve around one man.

On Sunday the 19-year-old Italian triumphed in a play-off with Louis Oosthuizen to seal the Singapore Open and supplement the Malaysian Open he won last year and the Castello Masters secured the previous season.

That first victory made Manassero the youngest player to win a European Tour trophy – he was 17 years and 188 days – and cemented the belief this was a teenager of titanic talent.

Having landed two more titles since, Manassero has proven he is no flash in the pan.

Manassero is a gifted iron player and unflinching putter, while his apparent poise suggests a man in boys' clothing.

However, his lack of distance off the tee presented a potential problem, placing more pressure on his short game and offering an advantage to obvious future rivals, such as McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Ryo Ishikawa, who was also a winner this weekend.

That 2012 saw Manassero's rise hit a plateau is attributable to swing changes designed to add length, yet he claimed that a stint in Abu Dhabi earlier this month - he is an ambassador for the capital - finally provided the solution.

It is worth remembering McIlroy had a single victory – the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic – before his 20th birthday. Manassero, having trebled that, is sure to share the limelight in the seasons to come.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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