Matteo Manassero voted best newcomer on Tour

THESE are heady times for Italian golf. A first World Cup win, delivered a year ago by the Molinari brothers, Francesco and Edoardo, was followed this season by the same duo helping Europe to regain the Ryder Cup in Wales and collecting three titles between them on the European Tour.

If that wasn't enough to be going on with, Matteo Manassero has now started to add to the list of notable achievements, the 17-year-old chalking up his latest success yesterday in being named as the 2010 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.

It follows him becoming the youngest European Tour winner, in the Castello Masters in October, and securing 31st place in the Race to Dubai.

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"I never expected to win on Tour so quickly and to win the Rookie of the Year Award is a perfect way to end my first season as a professional. It is such a special award because you only get one chance to win it, so it is a great honour," said Manassero, the first Italian to win a prize collected in the past by the likes of Sandy Lyle and Colin Montgomerie, as well as Sir Nick Faldo, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer.

The polling for the award, which is judged by the R&A, the Association of Golf Writers and the European Tour, saw Manassero pip Welshman Rhys Davies, who also won in his rookie season and made a bid to make the Ryder Cup team on home soil.

"Matteo's accomplishments in such a short time on Tour have been remarkable. He has true star quality and is an excellent addition to the crop of young players currently emerging throughout Europe, said Peter Dawson, the R&A's Chief Executive.

Manaserro first made his mark on British soil when winning the 2009 Amateur Championship a Formby. A few weeks later, at Turnberry, he became the youngest player to claim the Silver Medal for leading amateur in the Open Championship.

Earlier this year he played in the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Spey Valley, where he didn't seem to appreciate the unseasonal cold weather in June as he finished 42nd behind home winner George Murray. However, Manassero has not only managed to win on the main circuit since then, he also earned €890,401 and played 54 rounds in a combined 73-under-par.