TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Matteo Manassero saved his best round until last on his British Open debut as the 16-year-old Italian amateur carded a 1-under 69 on Sunday to underline his liking of links golf.
Winner of the British Amateur title only six weeks ago, Manassero also carded rounds of 71, 70 and 72 at the tricky Turnberry links and admitted his game was helped by playing the first two rounds alongside 59-year-old Tom Watson, the five-time Open champion who gave the young player plenty of advice.
"Playing with Tom Watson I grew up a little bit," said the teenager from Verona, who finished 2-over 282 and became the youngest winner of the silver medal for amateurs since it was introduced 60 years ago. "Even if he didn't say something to you, even if he didn't give you advice, you have grown up just watching him. It was great."
Manassero made five birdies in his final round and would have finished with an even better round if he hadn't bogeyed two of the last three holes.
"The last six weeks [since winning the Amateur title] I have been playing good," he said. "I was very happy about this experience. Today was a good round and I'm going to leave with the silver medal, which is special for me, a great achievement."
A fan of AC Milan, Manassero wore the blue colors of the Italian football team during the tournament and admitted that, even if he became a successful golfer, he would never achieve the fame of the soccer stars.
"I love football," he said. "In Italy it's impossible [to be as famous] because football stars are always better than the others and everyone talks more about football stars than every other sport.
"To get close to one of them would be great."
Manassero said his idol in golf was three-time Open champion Seve Ballesteros. As a 4-year-old, he once chipped with the Spanish great at the Italian Open.
Asked why he had done so well at Turnberry, Manassero said his coach and caddie, Alberto Binaghi, had encouraged him to play on links courses.
"We used to play a lot on links courses," said the teenager, who has played several amateur events in Britain. "Our national team coach wanted us to play on links courses into the wind and I am always getting more comfortable. I have a low trajectory and I am comfortable with this type of golf."