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Teenage sensation Manassero takes charge at European Masters

Matteo Massanero carded seven birdies as he took the lead at the European Masters.
Matteo Massanero carded seven birdies as he took the lead at the European Masters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Matteo Massanero takes the lead at the European Masters in Switzerland
  • 17-year-old shoots seven-under-par round of 64 at Crans-sur-Sierre
  • Englishman Graeme Storm and Finland's Mikko Ilonen one shot behind
  • Ryder Cup wild card pick Edoardo Molinari shoots five-under-par 66

London, England (CNN) -- Teenage sensation Matteo Manassero hit a bogey-free round of 64 to take charge of the European Masters event in the Swiss Alps.

The 17-year-old Italian made seven birdies on the Crans-sur-Sierre course as he opened up a one shot lead on Englishman Graeme Storm and Finland's Mikko Ilonen.

Manassero, who only turned professional in May, is battling for a Tour card and did his chances no harm with a sparkling opening round.

"It was the perfect round," Manassero told the European Tour's official website. "I didn't miss many greens and when I did I recovered well with up and downs.

"I don't think I could have expected better. I think seven-under is the best. I think I shot a six under in Geneva but this is definitely one of my best rounds since I turned pro and I think it is the lowest."

Fellow Italian Edoardo Molinari continued the strong form that saw him included in the European Ryder Cup team as one of captain Colin Montgomerie's wild card picks. He won the Johnnie Walker Classic at Gleneagles on Sunday to clinch his place.

It was the perfect round. It is definitely one of my best rounds since I turned pro
--Matteo Manassero
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He's on five-under, one shot ahead of a big chasing pack that includes European Ryder Cup vice-captain Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who will also be part of the team that tries to wrest the famous trophy back from America.

Manassero says the inclusion in the team of Edoardo and his brother Francesco, is great news for Italian golf.

"What Edoardo did was pretty unbelievable," said Manassero. "You don't see that very often to win a championship and then to be picked for the Ryder Cup with his brother was something to inspire everybody, not just me.

"He is in the best moment of his life, just won a championship, made the Ryder Cup team; it's been a fantastic year for him.

"It's very good to have two top players in the world and Ryder Cup players that are close to you, come from the same country and introduce you to that life. It's a big inspiration for me and all the guys growing up in Italy."

Spain's Jimenez fired an opening round 67 in his 22nd consecutive appearance at the tournament and afterwards he revealed his formula for success. He said: "My secret is drinking good wine and sleeping well! A 67 is good -- anything under par is good here.

"I still love the game and enjoy it. Now it is more relaxing after the pressure of trying to make the Ryder Cup team.

"Thank goodness that is finished and I have much more freedom. I love to come here in the Alps, it's very relaxing. I will take next week off and then play Austria before the Ryder Cup."