Manassero wins Singapore Open in playoff

Posted at: 11/11/2012 4:35 PM
By JUSTIN BERGMAN

(AP) SINGAPORE - Matteo Manassero holed a 12-foot putt for eagle to beat Louis Oosthuizen on the third playoff hole and win the Singapore Open on Sunday.

The 19-year-old Italian became the first teenager to win three titles on the European Tour.

Oosthuizen and Manassero both finished at 13-under 271 in regulation. The South African had seven birdies and three bogeys to card a 67 in the final round, while Manassero, the third-round leader, had three birdies in a round of 69.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, barely missed a 4-foot putt for the title on the second playoff hole, covering his mouth in disbelief after it lipped out.

Rory McIlroy finished in third place at 10 under, guaranteeing he will win the European Tour money title. He becomes the second golfer after Luke Donald last year to win both the PGA Tour and European money titles in the same season.

For both Manassero and Oosthuizen, it was a very long day on the course. Tropical downpours on the first two days of the event created a backlog in the schedule, forcing all the golfers to finish their second rounds Saturday afternoon and then rush back out to start the third as the sun was starting to set.

Manassero only finished three holes of his third round Saturday, meaning he had to return early Sunday morning to play 15 holes, then after a brief rest, start his final round. Oosthuizen played 13 holes to finish his third round in the morning.

"It’s been an extremely long day. The adrenaline kept me going and fortunately the key, I think, it was starting really well this morning after coming back on the course," Manassero said. "I started with some birdies in a row which was very good."

Much has been expected from the Italian following the records he set when he burst on the scene several years ago: youngest British Amateur winner (16 years old), youngest golfer to play in the Masters and make the cut (16), youngest European Tour winner (17).

Still a teenager, Manassero acknowledged that it’s been somewhat tougher in his third year as a pro. He hasn’t been back to the Masters since his debut and he failed to qualify for this year’s British Open. His last title had come last April at the Malaysian Open.

"It’s been very frustrating at times," he said. "I had to be more clear in my mind thinking that I started my career really well, but it’s very early. I’ve got many years. This is the time in which I really need to step my game up, make technical changes and adjusting myself.

"I didn’t have some great results for something like a year, a little ups and downs. Obviously, it was frustrating."

Both he and Oosthuizen had a number of chances to put distance between one another in the final round.

Down three strokes on the front nine, Oosthuizen put pressure on Manassero with three straight birdies on the 9th, 10th and 11th holes to pull even at 13 under. But he then gave two strokes right back by bogeying his next two holes.

The Italian, meanwhile, was steady, if not spectacular. He made par on 10 straight holes before finally slipping up on the 15th, where he hit his approach shot well short and two-putted for bogey. He also barely missed a 25-footer for birdie on No. 17.

This time, Oosthuizen was able to capitalize. He perfectly placed his approach on the 18th within two feet of the pin and sank the birdie putt, taking his first outright lead of the day.

Manassero responded, however, by hitting a big drive off the tee on the 18th and then getting close enough with a 60-foot putt to make birdie himself to force the playoff.

Both players birdied the first playoff hole on the 18th before Oosthuizen blew his 4-foot putt on the second hole.

It’s the second big loss for Oosthuizen in a playoff this year _ Bubba Watson beat him on the second hole of a playoff to win the Masters.

Oosthuizen was playing for more than just his third title of the year _ he was one of the few golfers who could still catch McIlroy in the European Tour money chase.

If Oosthuizen didn’t win, the Northern Irishman only needed to finish third to capture the money title. And fortunately for McIlroy, he finally found the consistency that’s been missing this week with four birdies and a 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole.

"I set myself a target today to finish on 10 under, get myself into double digits under par, and a couple of birdies on the back nine and was trying to keep pushing and pushing," McIlroy said. "Obviously it was great to finish with an eagle on the last but I was not thinking of anything else other than hit a good putt."

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(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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