Manassero holds nerve to win in playoff

Updated 12 November 2012
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Manassero holds nerve to win in playoff

SINGAPORE: Italian teenager Matteo Manassero holed a 12-foot eagle putt on the third play-off hole to claim a dramatic victory over South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen at the Barclays Singapore Open on Sunday.
In his first ever play-off, Manassero showed steel beyond his 19 years as he matched the 2010 British Open winner with birdie and par on the first two extra holes and then nervelessly downed the winner at a packed Sentosa Golf Club.
In denying Oosthuizen, Manassero also clinched this season’s European money title for world number one Rory McIlroy, making him only the second man to win the merit race on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year.
It settled a marathon final day for the $6 million tournament after storm delays earlier in the week meant Manassero had to play 36 holes in Singapore’s tropical heat on Sunday.
“It’s been an extremely long day,” said Manassero after the $1 million win, the biggest of his career following the 2010 Castello Masters and last year’s Malaysian Open.
“The adrenaline kept me going and the key I think was starting really well this morning... and the play-off was a great honor. It’s the first play-off of my career, it’s been amazing.”
Manassero, who in 2010 became the youngest man to make the cut at the Masters and was crowned the European Tour’s youngest ever winner, is now also the youngest champion in the Singapore Open’s 51-year history.
Oosthuizen has won twice this year but he was forced to revisit the disappointment of the US Masters play-off in April, when he lost out to Bubba Watson’s famous hook shot from the trees.
Earlier, McIlroy eagled his last hole for a 65 and third place, three shots behind the leaders. A win for Oosthuizen was the only result which would have delayed him from taking the European money title.
“It has always been one of my goals to become number one in Europe ever since securing my tour card five years ago, but then to also end the year as both European and PGA Tour number one is just amazing,” McIlroy said.
Overnight leader Thomas Bjorn finished four adrift on nine-under for the tournament, while three-time winner Adam Scott and Italy’s Francesco Molinari shared fifth, one stroke further back.
After lightning storms disrupted the first two days, players were on the course early to complete the third round and Manassero finished with a 64 to take a two-shot lead.
Organizers gambled on fine weather as they pressed ahead with the fourth round, rather than cutting the event to 54 holes, and under fine skies it developed into a duel between the young Italian and Oosthuizen, 30.
Oosthuizen made a great par save after finding water on the seventh hole, and then birdied three in a row around the turn to join Manassero in the lead at 13 under par.
Consecutive bogeys on 12 and 13 seemed to put Oosthuizen out of it — but he fired back with a chip-in birdie on 14, and when Manassero bunkered on the 15th for bogey, the scores were level again.
A fabulous chip to within two feet on 18 looked to have given Oosthuizen the outright win as he finished his round on 67 for a 13-under-par total of 271.
But under pressure on his last hole, Manassero found two huge shots to reach the green and two-putted from 60 feet to force the play-off with a closing score of 69.
On the first play-off hole, the par-five 18th, Manassero put his second shot into bunkerside rough short of the green while Oosthuizen dropped his 40 feet right of the pin.
Manassero chipped to within three feet, but Oosthuizen pushed his long putt seven feet past the hole before bravely holing out to extend the play-off.
Teeing off again on 18, the South African drove into a fairway bunker but he laid up and then arrowed his approach to four feet, as Manassero again found greenside rough and chipped to 15 feet.
As Manassero missed his putt, Oosthuizen had it in the bag, but his putt lipped out in a scarcely believable miss.
On the third hole, Manassero’s second shot rolled off a greenside bank to within 12 feet, and the Italian held his nerve to down the difficult, downhill putt.
“I putted like anyone who would have putted for a win,” said Oosthuizen, reliving his miss on the second extra hole. “I was putting beautifully today but the ball just didn’t go in. It’s been a story for the last four weeks.”


Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

‘I’m very happy to have won my first title with Juventus,’ Cristiano Ronaldo said. (Photo/General Sports Authority)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

  • Ronaldo’s glancing header sinks AC Milan 1-0 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium

JEDDAH: A historic Wednesday evening at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium saw Italian champions Juventus beat AC Milan in the final of the 31st annual Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal as Juventus lifted the Supercoppa Italiana for the first time since 2015 with a 1-0 victory in front of a sold-out 61,235-capacity crowd.

As only one should expect when two of the most successful Italian clubs go head to head, a tactical and elegant, albeit very physical, display of football was at hand. 

Cheerful roars from the Jeddah crowd resonated throughout the night, in the kind of buzzing atmosphere that only a cup final brings.

Juventus, the Serie A champions, began brightly and were the first side to settle into the game, threatening with frequent sweeping moves.

Juventus and Portuguese international Joao Cancelo could have opened the scoring in the 16th minute after being played through on goal, but the defender’s zooming effort lacked the necessary precision and whisked past the far post with the Milan keeper rooted in his spot.

A maddening crescendo of noise erupted when Juventus and French international Blaise Matuidi thought he had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after being played through by Costa before being flagged offside. 

Juventus did not have too much longer for another opportunity though, with Ronaldo’s acrobatic half volley from just outside the six-yard box bouncing and nestling agonizingly just over the bar and sparing Donnarumma’s blushes in the process.

Christiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in his last seven finals. (Reuters)

Milan, who qualified for the final as runners-up to Juventus in last season’s Coppa Italia, had struggled throughout the first half to settle into the game. They gradually grew into their own though, and nearly broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime with a stinging drive from Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu.

After a slew of opportunities had Juventus failing to build a halftime lead, Milan nearly made them pay for their squandered chances by starting the second half like bats out of hell. 

Milan’s confident pressing start to the half was almost rewarded in the 47th minute when a Ronaldo tackle inadvertently set up Cutrone with a clear sight on goal.  The striker turned and blasted an effort that rattled off the crossbar — the closest either team had come thus far.

And just when the tide seemed to have turned for Milan in the second half, their confidence building with every minute, a perfectly floating cross from Pjanic found Ronaldo with yards of space, and he made no mistake directing a swift header into the back of the net in the 61st minute and sending Juve supporters into a frenzy.


• AS IT HAPPENED: Cristiano Ronaldo's goal gives Juventus Supercoppa Italiana victory over AC Milan in Jeddah >>

• Arab News Matchday gallery >>


Things went from bad to worse for Milan in the 73rd minute. Franck Kessie came rushing in with a recklessly timed tackle, crunching his studs into the shins of Emre Can, which resulted in him seeing a straight red and leaving Milan with 10 men and a subsequent insurmountable uphill battle.

The final whistle came soon after, and with it brought Juventus a record eighth Supercoppa. It goes without saying that there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a cup final, but this was a historic and monumental occasion for Jeddah. 

The first major European cup final match being held in Saudi Arabia is now in the books, and with it brought an added sense of passion and excitement. 

Thousands of men, women and children showed up enthusiastically, were highly supportive of both teams, and were thoroughly entertained. It was a successful and memorable night that will surely pave the way for many more.

Addressing a prematch press conference on Tuesday night, Juventus Captain Giorgio Chiellini had defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.

“We (footballers) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.”

Juventus had been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they had lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European Cup finals. 

Chiellini, however, firmly believed that his team would change the trend and the team did make their captain proud. 

Juventus now holds the outright record of most Italian Super Cups with eight titles. (Arab News photo by Ali Khamg)