Matteo Manassero tells Godfrey Robert he wants to play in the Singapore Open
The first-class hospitality in the Republic and the splendour of the Serapong course have prompted Matteo Manassero to want a return to the SMBC Singapore Open in January.
History-making Manassero, the youngest winner of a European Tour event with his triumph in the 2010 Castello Masters in Spain in 2010 at only 17 years and 188 days, also enjoys the sunshine here.
In an interview in Abu Dhabi last Monday, Manassero, the 22-year-old Italian who was the last winner of the Barclays Singapore Open in 2012 at Sentosa, said: "Singapore Open? Yes, I want to play. I have special memories of the lovely island and the beautiful Sentosa Golf Club course.
"I'll be on an Asian swing during the January period, and I am keen to play in Singapore."
Manassero beat South African Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off to win the "Asian Major" three years ago before title sponsor Barclays pulled out after a seven-year association.
Then only 19, he holed a 12-foot eagle putt to win on the third play-off hole and capture his third European Tour title and by far his biggest paycheque - US$1 million ($1.4m).
Much had been expected of him following the records he set when he burst on the scene as a teenager: youngest British Amateur winner (16 years old), youngest golfer to play in the Masters and make the cut (16), and the youngest European Tour winner.
The "Golf In Abu Dhabi Ambassador", who was in the United Arab Emirates capital for the Matteo Manassero Invitational event, the first of a series to promote the sport in the emirates, was upbeat despite his slump in the world rankings.
Two years ago he was ranked 25th, but he has now dropped to No. 536, and missed 17 cuts in the past 12 months.
But the Italian with film star looks is serious about a big comeback.
"Yes, it is time to recharge. This winter's going to be mainly about that: working at restoring the energy I've lost from a long year.
"It's been a tough season, because I've had up and downs. It's just a bad season that can happen, but one that I want to bounce back from.
"I'm working on things I need to improve and trying to relax at the same time to be ready for next year," said the affable Italian, who makes regular visits to Abu Dhabi during the European winter.
The football fanatic who supports AC Milan and lists Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko as his favourite players, added: "Golf-wise Abu Dhabi is a very special place.
"The three main championship courses (Yas Links, Saadiyat Beach and Abu Dhabi Golf Club) are all so different and you can have a whole week of golf without ever getting bored."
"Singapore open? Yes, I want to play. I have special memories of the lovely island and the beautiful Sentosa Golf Club course."
- Matteo Manassero, in an interview with The New Paper’s Godfrey Robert in Abu Dhabi last Monday