PITTSFORD — Matteo Manassero swore it wasn’t on his mind.
“You always want to make the cut, and that’s about it – it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or things like that,” he said.
But how could he forget? Surely, the memory still stung – shooting 10-over-par on the second day of last year’s PGA Championship after shooting 1-under the first day. It was a sad collapse for the then-19-year-old.
“I played really bad the second day,” he said.
Manassero was no wide-eyed child when it happened. He had been a pro for two years. He competed in his first Masters at 16 years old, at the time a record for the youngest golfer in the tournament’s history (14-year-old Guan Tianlang set the new mark in April). And he has gone through with his career away from his home country of Italy.
His potential and maturity are coming full circle, and that was never more evident than Friday during his round of 1-under-par 69. At 1-over 141 through two rounds, he earned a chance to play the weekend by two shots.
There was one point Friday where he looked invincible at Oak Hill. Manassero was 4-under-par through 15 holes, but he took a one-shot penalty on 16 because his ball moved as he prepared to tap in what would have been a bogey. He then bogeyed No. 17.
Not his best finish, but after last year’s collapse, Manassero had some perspective Friday.
“I played really well,” he said. “I am really happy with the way I played.”
He made the cut, and like he said, that’s all he wanted. But he also said things in the past don’t matter, and there is one mark from his past that always seems to follow him – the title of youngest to win a European Tour event, which he claimed with victory in the 2010 Castellon Masters at 17 years old.
“It meant a lot,” Manassero said. “At the time, it meant so much, and now it’s still in my records and it still means a lot. Coming up from amateur to professional life has been a very proud moment and a great success for me.”
Manassero, ranked No. 28 in the world, also became the youngest golfer ever to win the European BMW PGA Championship in May. That field included major winners Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.
Manassero has won four European Tour events.
“It played tough,” the 6-foot-1, 182-pound Manassero said of the course. “We got rain, quite a lot, heavy at times, for pretty much the whole round. It was kind of longer than it’s always been and a bit softer in the greens. So I guess we could get some more birdie opportunities in if the irons are going well.”
After two years of pro experience, he said being a 20-year-old on tour isn’t all that strange.
“There are many young guys now,” he said. “We hang out together and we have some good times. It’s definitely good to be young on tour. You don’t need to be 30 years old to enjoy the tour.”
Woody Austin was assessed a four-stroke penalty Friday for exceeding the 14-club limit. Austin reported himself once he realized on the third hole that he had 15 clubs in his bag.
There is a two-stroke penalty per hole; Austin suffered the four-stroke setback for carrying too many clubs at Nos. 1 and 2. He missed the cut by a stroke.
There were two withdrawals Friday, both due to injury: Jamie Donaldson (back) and Angel Cabrera (left wrist).
Rain poured in the morning, but there was no weather delay.
Today’s forecast does not call for rain. It is expected to be partly cloudy and less humid, with a low of 59, high of 76 and winds between 10-15 mph.