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Rock, Manassero hoping Morocco leads to Masters

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AGADIR, Morocco – Robert Rock and Matteo Manassero are both playing the Hassan II Trophy this week needing a win to qualify for the Masters next month.

Rock and Manassero are the only golfers competing on the King of Morocco’s Royal Course in Agadir who can qualify for the Masters at Augusta National.

Rock lies 57th in the world rankings and Manassero 61st, and both must win to be inside the top 50 and gain direct entry into the year’s opening major.

“Augusta and qualifying for the Masters is the reason why I played in Spain last week and I’m here this week in Morocco,” Rock said.

“The only way I can now really get into the Masters is to win this week, and given how well I played in the Andalucia Open I’m quietly confident of doing enough to get myself inside the top 50.

“I have left it a bit late to try and get myself into the Masters, but I’m sure I will be well inside the top 50 by the time the U.S. Open comes around (in June). But having to achieve that goal this week is going to be a bit hard, but at least it gives me something to focus on.”

Rock dropped one place in the rankings in finishing tied for 17th in last week in Spain.

The 18-year-old Manassero picked up two places in finishing second to Frenchman Julien Quesne.

Quesne was also in Morocco after winning his maiden European Tour title.

“Everything has been great these last two days and I can’t believe the amount of people who have congratulated me and that is very special,” Quesne said.

David Horsey of England will defend his Hassan II Trophy title this week, after beating 2010 champ Rhys Davies of Wales in a playoff last year.

Also entered was John Daly, who will play the opening two rounds with fellow major winners Michael Campbell and Rich Beem.

Daly believes he is fully recovered from elbow tendons he tore in hitting a tree root during the final round of the Avantha Masters in India a month ago.

“It wasn’t till I got back home and had an X-ray that I realized the tendons were all pretty well torn,” he said Wednesday.

“I went and visited a doctor in Tampa (Fla.), who gave me a cortisone injection the Sunday before (last week’s) Transitions Championship. …

“I started hitting balls last week but it wasn’t until Saturday I could hit a deck 2-iron. But it feels real good after playing a practice round this morning so hopefully I should be OK.”

Daly indicated he will play in next week’s Sicilian Open and then head to Augusta as a retailer of his designer line of clothing and accessories.