By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- TPC Sawgrass isn’t for the easily intimidated, or a first-timer -- unless you’re Matteo Manassero.
The 18-year-old Italian became the youngest player ever to make the cut at THE PLAYERS Championship by more than two years, shooting a 70 on Friday to enter the weekend at 2 under.
Bobby Clampett held the previous mark when he made the cut in 1981 at 20 years, 334 days.
For Manassero, who just turned 18 last month, it’s just another record in a quickly growing list of accomplishments.
At age 16, Manassero became the youngest ever winner of the British Amateur Championship and three years later he was the low amateur at the British Open, where he tied for 13th. In 2010, he broke Bobby Cole's record, which stood since 1967, to become the youngest player ever to make the cut at the Masters, and then in October 2010 he won the Castelló Masters in Spain to become the youngest winner in European Tour history.
Manassero’s second European Tour win came at this year’s Malaysian Open, putting him first and second on the list of youngest European Tour winners.
Friday, Manassero flirted with the cut -- until he birdied two of his final three holes, including the par-5 ninth, where he rolled in a 17-footer for his fifth birdie of the day.
”It’s tough course,” Manassero said. “You have to put the ball in play. The rough is very severe. You don’t know how its going to come out and the greens are getting firmer and firmer.”
For a change, Manassero got to play with someone near his own age in 22-year-old Rickie Fowler. The third member of the pairing was 28-year-old Alvaro Quiros.
Fowler, who was playing in just his second PLAYERS Championship, was impressed by the Italian teen.
“He’s obviously got a pretty impressive game,” Fowler said. “He doesn’t it far, but he hits it far enough. He keeps it in front of him and stays out of trouble and that makes the game pretty easy.”