Matteo Manassero vows to return to Hong Kong Open

After looming as a genuine contender, young italian fails at the last hurdle but vows to return after enjoying his Hong Kong experience

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 3:16am

Matteo Manassero shrugged his shoulders and sighed as he pondered for a second what might have been.

The young Italian wasn't going to dwell for too long on a day that had seen him loom as a genuine contender at the UBS Hong Kong Open with four birdies over 11 holes, only to see his challenge fade away after bogeys on the 13th and on the last, and a seemingly unending run of birdie putts that just would not drop.

Manassero,19, who finished tied for fourth on 11-under par with Ireland's Peter Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, made a vow to return next year.

"I think today I had a good round," he said. "I had a little bit of bad luck on 13 and again on the last but I have to say I enjoyed myself and I am really happy with the way I am playing.

"I could easily have shot five or six under today but it seemed like the ball was going close but not close enough. I knew I had to push hard on the back nine but I pushed maybe too hard.

"But this is a tournament I enjoy coming to and a course that really seems to suit my game so I guess I will see everyone again next year."

Much had been made all week of the older players who had lit up the leader board and Manassero said he had been inspired by what he had seen and by the nerveless effort by one man in particular - eventual winner Miguel Angel Jimenez.

"It really is quite something," Manassero said. "Not many people know but he goes to the gym, he works out and his mind allows him to do these things on the golf course. He has a very strong mind. He deserves to win once again."

Manassero now heads to the lucrative Dubai World Golf Championship - the final event for the European season. "I have a great deal of confidence," he said. "My game has developed a lot."

Gallacher was another player delighted with his own form heading for Dubai, especially considering he had been taking pain-killers and anti-inflammatories to help deal with a torn cartilage in his right knee.

"I can't get down on my knee to read a putt properly so I am just sort of hitting it and hoping at the moment but it's working quite good," he said. "I'll go under the knife after Dubai."

The expected challenge from Zhang Lianwei - who had entered the final day tied for second with Manassero - was buried under bogeys as the mainland star finished with a three-over 73 for a final six-under.

However, the 47-year-old was another who was still looking on the bright side.

"Today I was just too bad from the tee. It really let me down," Zhang said. "But I really enjoyed the week and being up there on the leader board. I had a lot of fun out there on the course and saw that a lot of friends came out to support me."