Matteo Manassero back among the elite at U.S. Open with Paris Olympics on horizon

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on

After eight years away from the pinnacle of elite golf, this week’s U.S. Open sees Matteo Manassero make his major championship comeback amid great anticipation.

Through patience, resilience and talent, the once prodigy of European golf has emerged from the doldrums and is now in the midst of a remarkable revival.

On the back of winning twice to earn promotion from the European Challenge Tour last year, the Italian has since ended a near 11-year wait for a fifth DP World Tour title.

Victory at the Jonsson Workwear Open in South Africa in March was met by unanimous support from across the sport, but it is his involvement again on one of golf’s biggest stages after coming through last month's U.S. Open Final Qualifying at Walton Heath that cements his journey back to competing among the best.

Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina is the latest venue for him to shine on, and the 31-year-old is embracing everything that is coming his way.

"Golf is always there to surprise you when you're working well and you're doing things right," Manassero told the DP World Tour.

"It's been a very emotional start of the [DP World Tour] season, with a lot of joy and a willingness to do more and do all that golf is giving me now."

In November, in the days leading up to his graduation from the Challenge Tour being confirmed, Manassero revealed in an insightful “player blog” the extent of the turmoil the game had caused him during his darkest moments.

At one stage, he dropped as low as 1,805th on the Official World Golf Ranking before winning on the Alps Tour in September 2020.

Matteo Manassero’s incredible path back to the DP World Tour

This article was first written ahead of Matteo Manassero's return to the DP World Tour at the end of 2023.


"Since we talked [for the player blog], a lot has changed and a lot of great things that you dream of have happened," he added. "You can work for it but you never know whether they're actually going to come true or not.

"The season has been great – above my expectation, I would say, because to win again on the DP World Tour was always something I ultimately wanted to do again and feel that emotion again. But you never know when it may happen and to put it as a goal this year felt difficult and almost too much."

Yet, win he did. And in style, too. As darkness descended at Glendower Golf Club, he birdied his fourth hole in a row to seal his first DP World Tour title since his triumph at the 2013 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Back then he had not long just made his first start as a professional at the Masters Tournament and had climbed inside the top 30 in the world.

He now finds himself just outside the top 170, but that doesn't really do justice to the level of belief he has in his game at this time in his career. The days of looking back are in the past, his focus in recent months has been on the next objective.

"The great thing about this game, especially at the highest level, is once you achieve a goal, golf presents you with something else to work for and prepare for," he said. "On the Challenge Tour last year, basically the only goal is to go up. Once you achieve that there is not much that you can take but on the DP World Tour there is always something else to strive for.

"It could have been to play majors after winning at Glendower, and now I will be playing at the U.S. Open. That is something I haven’t done in eight years. It is definitely something I am preparing myself for and brings a lot of enthusiasm."

"After that, it could be The Open and then it could be the Olympics, and then it could be finishing as high as possible in the [Race to Dubai] rankings so there is always something new."

The way things are panning out for Manassero, it would be no surprise if over the coming weeks he was to play his way into this summer's Open Championship at Royal Troon, which by coincidence happens to be the scene of his most recent major appearance in 2016.

"You’re always challenging yourself a little bit more, knowing that it is not easy but embracing that and trying your best," he added. "With the skills and the team that I have, I feel like I can get a lot of joy out of this game and that is what I am trying to do."

But back to the here and now. Manassero, who is set to qualify to represent Italy at this summer's Olympic Games in Paris, will not be the lone Italian in the field at Pinehurst, which last hosted a U.S. Open in 2014. Alongside him will be the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, who also secured their spots in the 156-player field by coming through Final Qualifying.

Like Manassero, Edoardo secured his berth at Walton Heath, while later that same day 2018 Open Champion Francesco earned his 55th career start in a major championship at Dallas Athletic Club.

With a practice round together a certainty, Manassero admits being back alongside his countrymen in one of golf's biggest events brings back a sense of nostalgia having been paired with his Ryder Cup-winning countrymen when the U.S. Open was held at Congressional Country Club in 2011.

"It takes me back many years to the last time it was just the three of us playing a U.S. Open," he reflected. "It’s like the beginning of my professional years which were more than ten years ago.

"It’s like a revival of something that feels vintage now. It’s going to be fun, the fact that we all qualified was incredible. Andrea Pavan nearly made it, too, and Guido (Migliozzi) as well, so we nearly got an Italian contingent there.

"Being paired together the three of us at Congressional was a fantastic memory. I will enjoy my time with them. I see Edoardo a lot, I see less of Francesco, so I am looking forward to seeing him, too."

It is little wonder Manassero is in such good spirits ahead of the biggest week of his season so far. Riding high in 15th place on the Race to Dubai Rankings, with two top 10s in addition to his win in South Africa, the Italian has taken to life back on the DP World Tour with a confidence in spite of the humble nature he carries himself in.

"It's been fantastic," he said. "I enjoyed my time on the Challenge Tour, I have a lot of good friends there and while it was different travelling, we had a great time, but the DP World Tour makes you feel like an athlete. Especially, being back in Europe with a lot of crowds. I enjoyed my time in Belgium at the Soudal Open a lot.

"When you feel like there are thousands of people around the tee and so close to you, you really feel great about playing golf. Those type of moments are what we love about the game."

Well, come Thursday, a resurgent Manassero will experience one of those moments again in front of the vast crowds expected to descend on Pinehurst.