Matteo Manassero is looking forward to meeting up with good friend Ryo Ishikawa this week – on and off the golf course. The Italian ‘wonderkid’ formed a close bond with Ishikawa when they met at the World Golf Championship event in Shanghai two months ago.

Neither of them realised they would soon be meeting up again as fierce rivals at the Royal Trophy, with golfing fans from both Asia and Europe hoping they will go head-to-head when the competition reaches its climax with Sunday’s singles matches.

And Manassero admits he shares that ambition, saying: “Since I was told I would be representing Europe I have been looking forward to seeing Ryo again.

“We kind of hit it off in Shanghai, and hung out together a bit. We are of a similar age and like a lot of the same things, and I think the young guys just tend to gravitate towards each other when a few of us are playing in the same competitions.

“I got to know Noh Seung-yul pretty well too. Like me and Ryo he is a teenager, and I guess we can look forward to playing against each other for a lot of years in the future.

“Since I was named in the European Team I keep hearing that people would love to see me and Ryo face each other in the singles – and I’d like that too. I’m sure Ryo would as well. It would be very cool, and a lot of fun.”

Both players are in the vanguard of the new breed of young golfing hotshots who have captured the imagination worldwide.

Manassero is a mere 17, but has just won the prestigious European Tour Rookie of the Year award, after becoming he youngest golfer ever to win an event in Europe when he claimed the Castello Masters title in October.

At 19 Ishikawa has already won nine tournaments on the Japan Golf Tour – the first of them as a 15 year old amateur – and topped the Order of Merit in 2009. He is already becoming an ‘old hand’ at competing in World Golf Championship events while Manassero was making his debut in that company in Shanghai, thanks to his Castello Masters triumph.

Knowledgeable pundits believe Manassero could take the Italian game to new heights. He is simply that good. He was the youngest player to win the British Amateur title, which earned him a place in the Masters, and the youngest to make the cut at Augusta.

But he plays down his achievements modestly, adding: “I am just starting out in the game, and for me it is still difficult to believe that I will be representing Europe alongside players such as Colin Montgomerie and Henrik Stenson, who have won some of the biggest tournaments in the game.

“Naturally, I share the excitement over the emergence of so many young players, and I am delighted to be mentioned in that group, along with the likes of Ryo and Seung-yul. We also have more great players at the Royal Trophy like Rhys Davies, Pablo Martin, Kim Kyung-tae, Yuta Ikeda, and Shunsuke Sonoda, who are not much older than us.

“But we also have a lot of respect for people like Monty, Thongchai Jaidee, and others who have experienced the heat of battle many times, and know how they will react under pressure.

“We have still to encounter that on a regular basis, and I am sure the Royal Trophy will be a big step in our development. It would be nice if Ryo and I can take that step together on Sunday.”

“We are very appreciative of the Royal Thai Government’s hosting of the Fifth Edition of the Royal Trophy and the support from the Office of the Prime Minister:” stated the Royal Trophy Managing Director, Lincoln Venancio.

“We are very pleased to count with the Royal Thai Government’s support and authority;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The Fifth Edition of the Royal Trophy is hosted by the Royal Thai Government; and is organized by the Sponsors Authority of Thailand, the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipality and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd. The Championship is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

The Royal Trophy - Europe vs Asia Golf Championship
The Royal Trophy and all intellectual property, copyright and goodwill derived from it or related to it including without limitation
the Royal Trophy name, the Royal Trophy logo and the Competition format are the sole property of Entertainment Group (Asia) Limited.
© 2005-2014. Entertainment Group (Asia) Limited. All Rights Reserved.