Matteo Manassero continues to exceed expectations

Matteo Manassero continues to defy expectations. One year after he became the youngest golfer in Masters history to make the cut at the age of 16, and the youngest winner in European Tour history at the age of 17, you had to wonder what the Italian sensation would do for an encore. How would a kid, who wasn't old enough to drive in Italy, handle the sky-high expectations?

While nobody would have blamed Manassero if he suffered a sophomore slump in 2011, it's clear from the way he's played this season that he has no intention of slowing down. With a top 15 finish on the European Tour, and a first round upset of world No. 10 Steve Stricker at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in his back pocket, Manassero added a strong PGA Tour finish to his golf resume at the Transitions Championship.

At 6-under for the week he's sitting just inside the top 20, which is exactly where he needs to be if he wants to hang around the States for another couple of weeks. Currently 55th in the World Golf Rankings, Manassero needs another high finish at Bay Hill to get inside the top 50 and punch his ticket for the Masters.

But even if he falls short, his month-long stint in the States should still be considered a success. We all knew Manassero could play well on the European Tour, but after watching him play against some of the best players in the world, it's obvious his game translates between both tours. The 17-year-old has shown us that while he's still a teenager, he's wise beyond his years, showing incredible composure for someone in their second year as a professional golfer.

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