A super Matt finish that rewrites history…

Inspired by Seve, The European Tour’s youngest winner shows them how it’s done in Sunny Spain.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon just like every other at the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo and the golfing history books were out, not for reference, but to be rewritten.

Host to the Castello Masters and the place where Sergio Garcia learnt his trade, Italian golfer Matteo Manassero finished strongly and was crowned a European Tour tournament champion yesterday, becoming the youngest ever winner on Tour at 17 years and 188 days, beating the previous record held by New Zealander, Danny Lee, of 18 years and 213 days.

This victory has seen Matteo become the youngest full European Tour Member – beating the previous record of his golfing idol Seve Ballesteros who achieved this feat in 1974 aged 17 and 200 days. Optimal caught up with Matteo recently at the Dunhill in St Andrews and he was quick to tell the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy (www.SeveAcademy.com) how much of a hero and an inspiration he is to him and was happy to “swing for Seve” and pass a message to the golfing great.

2010 has been a fantastic year for the young Italian. From becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut at the Masters, and finishing inside the top 50, to turning professional in May, he has amassed €641,000 from 15 tournaments and moved into 43rd position on the ‘Race to Dubai’, giving him the chance to play in the illustrious Dubai World Championship presented by DP World, played around the Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 25-28. A win here would give him a 5-year Tour exemption and a healthy pay cheque of €1.125 million. All that stand in the way are fellow supporters of the Seve Academy: World Number 1 contenders, Martin Kaymer (the current leader of the Race to Dubai), Lee Westwood (defending champion of the Harry Vardon Trophy, and US Open winner, Graeme McDowell!

However, if Manassero performs as he did on Sunday, this might present very few problems. Rounds of 68,66,67,67 saw him haul-in and overtake overnight, leader, Gary Boyd, to win by a convincing 4 strokes.

The young Italian achieved this feat by hitting fairways and greens and vitally, holing putts. He achieved this through steady performance in all disciplines. Although not the Tour’s longest or most accurate hitter – some way down the official European Tours stats list, with the eyes of Optimal’s launch monitor, he managed an average driving distance of 287.3 yds, with 64.3% accuracy, the 5th best in the field over the weekend. He hit 79% of greens, and was very high up the putting stats with an average of 1.646 putts per green!

Standing proudly behind Matteo is Alberto Binaghi, former European Tour player, a member of the Italian Golf Federation coaching staff and all-round advocate of performance analysis technologies. Binaghi has several of the world’s best and up-and-coming players under his wing, including the Molinari brothers and even finds the time to carry the bag for Manassero for the bigger events!Coaching aside, this amazing achievement has signified Matteo Manassero’s arrival, proper, on the European Tour, and made many of his colleagues look up and notice the wonder-kid they label as the next Seve.For more information on the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy, including a chance to view Matteo Manassero’s support for Seve, alongside that of other top European Tour players, please visit www.SeveAcademy.com.For further information on Optimal Analysis, performance analysis, video analysis, launch monitor technologies and online academies, please visit friends in golf at www.OptimalAnalysis.co.uk or call 0131 510 0210.