The popular Italian discusses a difficult and unprecedented season, building confidence and the players he looks up to

Q&A with Matteo Manassero

It’s been quite a tough year for you – what have you been doing to try and turn that form around and what are your main aims
over the next few months?

Obviously there is a lot of work to be done, I know that. A tough year like this brings different things – some are technical, some are mental. If you are struggling sometimes it goes a little to the mental side, so you have to work on a bit of both. My season will basically re-start in Abu Dhabi next year. So I do have time. I need to improve those few technical things before Abu Dhabi.

How confident are you that, in years to come, you will look back and think this period made you much stronger as a player and as a person?

It’s part of our experience as golfers. I don’t know if it’s going to make me much stronger. I think every player goes through tough times and it’s important that you take the positives, so that when you come back you know how to deal with it and move on.

How do you split your time between practising, going to the gym and resting in the off-season?

It’s not an even spread. I will practise and I need to relax, but I will spend more time practising than relaxing. There is a lot of golf on the agenda and a little bit of gym work, plus time to relax, fortunately. This is the first year that I’ve had time for all three, thankfully. It’s great to have time for everything, but importantly I need to be fresh for Abu Dhabi. I’ll spend a fair bit of time in Italy and then possibly a couple of weeks training elsewhere.

Q&A with Matteo Manassero

So the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is going to be a big focus for you next year?

Absolutely. That tournament is the re-start, the re-start mentally for my new season. It’s the start of the tour [Ed: it’s not the first official event of the 2016 season] and you need to be prepared. Last year I wasn’t prepared. But it’s really nice to start the year with an event like that. Hopefully it will put me on a good track for the rest of the season.

What do you think would be considered a good year for you in 2016 and have you set any goals for yourself?

If I made the DP World Tour Championship that would be considered a good season after this year. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, but the whole thing is about confidence and I need to get that going as soon as possible.

The season is very long – so however I start, I need to enjoy it and be patient. I think 2015 was an important season for many things. It was a hard season and I need to try and start from the beginning next year and start fresh. I would say if I made the DP World and contended for a couple of wins, that would be considered a good season.

Is there a strategy in place in terms of how many tournaments you will play? Will you look to play as many as possible or be selective in the tournaments you enter?

I’m not going to be selective. I think it’s a case of just playing and I’m going to focus on that. I think I need to do some work, but there’s a lot of time in winter to do that, so I don’t necessarily have to bring it to the new
season. I’ll just focus on playing and will probably play quite a lot.

You and the other players on the European Tour are now going to more and more events, like Abu Dhabi, which are outside Europe. How does that help improve the overall quality of the Tour?

I think with the troubles we’ve had in Europe in terms of finding sponsors and hosting competitive events, it’s a change that has made it very interesting for us. There’s more and more interesting golf courses appearing in these countries, in areas like Asia, for instance. It’s definitely something that the European Tour has been looking at and has
done well on. It makes us travel a little more, but I would say if the whole thing is going to be more competitive with more sponsors then it’s something we have to do.

On the Monday after the 143rd Open Championship, Golf Monthly attended a Ralph Lauren event at Royal Liverpool Golf Club with the brand’s RLX Golf Ambassador Matteo Manassero watch that below

Where you are in your career now, is there someone you look at on tour and try to draw some inspiration from?

I think my game could be similar to someone like Jim Furyk. He’s someone who is very much in control of his game. He’s maybe not the guy that you’d expect me to look up to. Guys like him and Zach Johnson, who are in control of their games, maybe don’t do anything special like Rory or Jason Day, but they are always there and they always perform. They win Majors and they are at the top of world golf. Those are the type of guys who I can look up to. Then there are the guys who I admire, but I will never reach their ability in terms of hitting the ball 300 metres, just tearing golf courses apart, like Jason and Rory, for example.

You mentioned about going to Abu Dhabi – why did you decide to go there to prepare for the European Tour, as well as use the area to relax?

Abu Dhabi is perfect for that. There’s perfect weather all year round, even when the weather is cold in Europe. It’s a big city and there are loads of things to do. And the golf courses really are top class. You have great facilities to practise on, too. The three courses are all fantastic and they present different challenges. You have a links (Yas Links), parkland at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and then a little bit of everything at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. I have to say it’s the perfect combination for me to play golf, practise and generally spend a bit of time in the area.

If you could achieve one thing in your career, what would it be?

I would like to win a Major. It’s something I work for and dream of.
It’s definitely something I want to do before I finish my career. It’s going to be many years before I finish up, but it is one thing I would like to do. I do realise, though, that it’s a case of one thing at a time right now.

What I play…

Driver: Callaway Great Big Bertha
Fairway wood: Callaway XR 3-wood
Hybrid: Callaway X2 Hot (19°)
Irons: Callaway X Forged ‘13 (3-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (52°), MD 3 (58°)
Putter: Odyssey Metal-X Milled 330; Ball: Callaway SR3

Matteo Manassero is an ambassador for Golf in Abu Dhabi.

Visit golfinabudhabi.com