Manley gets 2nd chance at Royal Melbourne
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)
Stuart Manley of Wales finally got a chance to play Royal Melbourne. He made the most of the opportunity to shoot a 4-under-par 67 Thursday in the first round of the World Cup.
Manley, who last week secured his European Tour card for next season, was tied for second, one stroke behind first-round leaders Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and American Kevin Streelman.
Manley first came to Royal Melbourne in 2005 to play the Heineken Classic. But although he was first reserve on the Sunday before the tournament started, he never got into the field.
''I thought I'd come down, hopefully get a start but it didn't work out,'' Manley said Thursday. ''I walked the golf course, but didn't actually play.''
The 346th-ranked Manley intended to play in the team event for Wales at this World Cup, but his scheduled partner, Jamie Donaldson, withdrew with a back injury. That forced Manley to play as one of eight individuals in the 60-player field.
And eight years after his first visit, he realized all the talk about the lightning-fast greens at Royal Melbourne was no hype.
''The greens are electric, I have not played on any as fast,'' he said. ''I am not quite used to this really from where I am and the European tour. They're very scary.''
Manley finished 10th in the qualifying school tournament in Spain last week after missing his card on the Challenge Tour, then made a rushed trip back home and then on to Australia.
''I got home very late, in the early hours of Saturday morning, changed my suitcase, kissed the wife (Nicola) and the dog (Griff) and jumped back in the car ... got to Heathrow, got a flight 10 o'clock Saturday night and into here seven o'clock Monday morning.''
He'll soon be doing a lot more travel. With his European Tour card secured, he'll leave Melbourne and head to South Africa, Hong Kong and then back to South Africa for tournaments before Christmas.
''I am pretty excited to get my card back,'' Manley said. ''I just want to get down and play a few events and get some money on the board.''
He hopes to do the same here. The prize money for the individual portion of the 60-player tournament is $7 million, with $20,000 going to the last-place finisher.
Manley figures he's got a game plan for the rest of the tournament.
''Patience, don't be too aggressive,'' he said. ''I didn't take that many pins on, kind of just middle of the green and just putted very solid. The greens are so hard you have to try and plot your way around and make a few birdies.''