Matteo Manassero of Italy plays a shot during the first round of the Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol at Aloha golf club on March 15, 2012 in Marbella, Spain. (credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Matteo Manassero is the early favourite to win this week’s Open de Andalucia after he opened up a three-shot lead after the first round in the Costa del Sol.
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The Italian teenager (3/1 Tournament Winner) was in superb form on day one as he reeled off nine birdies and one bogey in an eight-under-par 64 that gave him a commanding lead over a group of players on five-under.
Manassero told EuropeanTour.com: “This course suits my game because it’s not long and I don’t need to hit 300 yards to reach the par fives.
“You need accurate shots and a good strategy, and I enjoy this type of course.
“You have to put the ball in play and then do well around the greens. I did pretty much everything right apart from one shot.
“The key today was my putting. I made a couple of 20 footers and placed the ball on the right spots.”
Two Englishmen appear in the group sharing second place, with Antony Wall (20/1) and Lloyd Kennedy (66/1) shooting 67s along with Eduardo De La Riva (33/1), Hennie Otto (20/1) and Niclas Fasth (33/1).
Home hope Pablo Larrazabal (20/1) is among a group of players on four-under after the first 18 holes of the competition, while tournament organiser Miguel Angel Jimenez (20/1) is three-under after a round that consisted of six birdies and three bogeys.
The popular Spaniard is among a raft of players that shot a 69 on Thursday, with that group including Mark Foster (33/1), Ignacio Garrido (50/1), Robert Rock (16/1), Marcel Siem (20/1) and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (33/1).