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Manassero out of Masters, but not down in Sicily

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VERDURA, Sicily – Winning in front of a home crowd is motivating Matteo Manassero at this week’s Sicilian Open after missing out on a place in the Masters.

The 18-year-old Manassero was runner-up in Spain and sixth last week in Morocco, where he needed to win to enter the top 50 in the world rankings and secure an 11th-hour place in the field at Augusta National. Instead, his ranking only rose as high as 61st.

“I have extra motivation in front of my own people and I have extra motivation to win, as the last two weeks I got myself in position on the Sunday to win and didn’t close it,” he said on Wednesday.

Manassero will play the first two rounds from Thursday with Raphael Jacquelin, the winner of the inaugural Sicilian Open last year in a Monday finish, and Branden Grace, a two-time winner already this year on the European Tour.

Major winners John Daly and Rich Beem were also in the field at Verdura Golf and Spa Resort.

Beem, who won the 2002 U.S. PGA Championship, has yet to make a cut in three attempts this season on the tour.

Tom Lewis of England was looking forward to translating lessons from last week’s Tavistock Cup into a top good performance in Sicily.

After posting the lowest ever score by an amateur at the British Open with a 5-under 65 last year, Lewis won his first tour title at the Portugal Masters. He made his debut on the U.S. PGA Tour two weeks ago at the Transitions Championship, where he missed the cut before competing in the two-day Tavistock Cup with Tiger Woods.

“It was really good for me in the Tavistock Cup to mix with some of the best players in the world and it was a shame I didn’t play a little bit better in Tampa,” Lewis said. “It was still a good week there and hopefully I can get to the stage where I can play on both tours.”