CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland (AP) — Italian teenager Matteo Manassero shot a 7-under 64 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the European Masters.
“The perfect round of golf,” the 17-year-old Manassero said of his bogey-free round. “I didn’t miss many greens and when I did I got up and down each time, so it was just perfect.”
Mikko Ilonen used his power to shoot a 65 and earn a share of second place alongside Graeme Storm. Edoardo Molinari was in a group of six another stroke behind just four days after winning the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to earn a wild card for next month’s Ryder Cup.
Manassero turned professional in May and is allowed a maximum of seven sponsor invitations. He still needs to earn his European Tour playing card for 2011. If he fails, he will have to attend tour school in Spain in early December.
Manassero played in the morning when the soft greens at Crans-Sur-Sierre were at their best. By the time Molinari teed off after lunch, the heavy traffic had made them bumpy.
“I had another good solid round of golf,” Molinari said. “Though on the back nine holes it was a bit scrappy because I found it difficult making putts.
“In the afternoon the greens were not perfect, so I am looking forward to the second round, starting out in the morning.”
British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, returning to action for the first time since the PGA Championship, shot a 71 with four bogeys and four birdies.
Greg Norman struggled in his first tournament golf after spending a year recovering from shoulder surgery. The 55-year-old Australian and two-time British Open champion drove out of bounds at the par-5 14th on his way to a 75.