AUGUSTA — As Matteo Manassero stood against the ropes talking, Tom Watson tapped him on the shoulder as he was walking from the ninth green to the 10th tee.
Manassero turned around and Watson, 44 years his senior, gave him a thumb’s up and smile.
While it’s not quite the passing of the torch, it was a nice way to end a nice week for the Italian teenager.
The youngest competitor to ever play the Masters, the 16-year-old Manassero finished the tournament 4-over par, including a 4-foot birdie on the final hole. The only amateur to make the cut, Manassero will take home the Silver Cup given to the low amateur. He said he will likely put it in his bedroom back home in Verona.
Manassero will turn pro in May in time for the Italian Open. He said this week’s experience, which included lots of young ladies following him around the course, will help him as he tries to to earn enough money in seven European Tour events to get full-time status for 2011.
“Playing a course like this helps me to understand how to play every course,” Manassero said.