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Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Thursday, 2 September 2010 18:22 UK

Italian teen Matteo Manassero leads European Masters

First round leaderboard:
-7 M Manassero (Ita) -6 G Storm (Eng), M Ilonen (Fin) -5 S Webster (Eng), C Nirat (Tha), R Coles (Eng), R Kulacz (NZ), E Molinari (Ita), D Drysdale (Sco) -4 R-J Derksen (Ned), A Canizares (Spa), D Dixon (Eng), D Clarke (NI), M A Jimenez (Spa), P Waring (Eng), A Wall (Eng), S Hansen (Den) Selected others: -3 R McGowan (Eng), O Wilson (Eng) Level L Oosthuizen (SA) +1 P McGinley (Ire) +4 G Norman (Aus)

Matteo Manassero
Manassero has yet to earn his Tour card for 2011

Italian teenager Matteo Manassero shot a seven-under-par 64 to lead the European Masters after the first round.

The 17-year-old, who turned professional in May, leads England's Graeme Storm and Mikko Ilonen of Finland by a stroke.

Englishmen Steve Webster and Robert Coles are five under along with Italian Edoardo Molinari and three others.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke is four under, while Open champion Louis Oosthuizen carded a level-par 71.

Clarke, one of European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie's vice captains for the event at Celtic Manor, holed a 30-foot birdie to finish a round containing only one dropped shot on the 11th.


Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who will be competing in his fourth Ryder Cup in October, carded six birdies and two bogeys to go level with Clarke.

Scot David Drysdale is another of the six players currently tied for third on five under.

The story of the round, though, was high school student Manassero, who has yet to earn his European playing card for 2011.

He turned professional off the back of a superb 13th-place finish at last year's Open and 36th at the Masters in April.

That entitled him to nine sponsors invites for a chance to finish in the top 115 of the European money list, in which he is currently 127th with two of his events left.

A failure to do so means last year's British amateur champion will have to attend Tour school in Spain in November.

He started his round on the 10th and was three under through his first 10 holes before a 25-foot birdie on the third green sparked a superb last seven holes, where he picked up four further strokes.

"It was a perfect round of golf and a great start to a tournament that is very important to me," said Manassero who was delighted by the successes of the Molinari brothers in making the European Ryder Cup team.

"It's a big inspiration for me and all the guys growing up in Italy. It's unbelievable what they are doing. I watched Edoardo's win on Sunday - it was beautiful."

Australia's former world number one Greg Norman, 55, was playing his first event for 12 months following shoulder surgery and carded a four-over 75.

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see also
Molinari earns European wildcard
29 Aug 10 |  Golf
Molinari triumphs at Gleneagles
29 Aug 10 |  Golf
Hanson win hits Casey Ryder hopes
22 Aug 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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