Matteo Manassero to feed off Lawrie at Muirfield

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MATTEO Manassero, the PGA champion, reckons Paul Lawrie can help his bid to become a first-time major winner at Muirfield next week.

The pair are in the same group for the first two rounds at Castle Stuart, where Lawrie will have another of European golf’s rising stars, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, in his potential links masterclass as well.

“It’s a great draw for me,” admitted Manassero, who toppled Bernhard Gallacher as the youngest-ever PGA winner after beating Marc Warren and Simon Khan in a play-off at Wentworth in May.

“I will watch him (Lawrie) and try to learn something. He’s played so much links golf and won The Open at one of the toughest venues,” added the Italian of Lawrie claiming the Claret Jug at Carnoustie back in 1999.

“Muirfield will be a hard venue as well, so I might even ask him about that, we will see.”

Two other Scots, the aforementioned Warren and Stephen Gallacher, will launch their title bids tomorrow in the company of the event’s star attractions.

Gallacher is in the same morning group as two major winners, world No 8 Phil Mickelson and Irishman Padraig Harrington.

And, in another three-ball that is certain to attract a big crowd on the banks of the Moray Firth, Warren is out in the afternoon with Open champion Ernie Els and Swede Henrik Stenson.

Martin Laird is also in one of the showpiece afternoon groups.

He will head out along with recent Irish Open winner Paul Casey and Branden Grace, who topped off a splendid 2012 season by lifting the Dunhill Links title at St Andrews last October.

And, in the match behind them, Scott Jamieson, another potential home winner, is out with 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke and Italian Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari.