Green and Quiros, playing Andalucia Open, have Masters on their minds

richard green
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Even a victory in this week's Andalucia Open might not be enough to get Richard Green into the Masters.
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PA Sport

Series:

Australian Richard Green has a final chance to qualify for the upcoming Masters this week -- but he needs an awful lot of help from an awful lot of people.

First of all, the 40-year-old left-hander has to win the European Tour’s Andalucia Open -- as South African Louis Oosthuizen did last March -- to climb into the world's top 50 and earn a place at Augusta National. But even if he lifts the trophy on Sunday, Green would then have to wait to see what happens at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.

2011 ANDALUCIA OPEN

European Tour star Miguel Angel Jimenez is the promoter of the Andalucia Open, which is played in his hometown of Malaga, Spain.

A number of players there could deny him a second Masters appearance, among them Italian teenager Matteo Manassero. His hopes of returning a year after he made the cut as British Amateur champion depend on him finishing in the top 20 at Bay Hill -- and possibly a lot higher.

Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, who won the Qatar Masters last month and then knocked Tiger Woods out of the WGC-Accenture Match Play, would also have had an opportunity to make it to Augusta, but a family illness has caused him to pull out of the Andalucia Open.

Oosthuizen was another withdrawal because of a virus that has spread from his eye to his mouth -- he hopes to return to action in Houston next week -- and that leaves only two members of the world's current top 50 in the field, although Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Sicilian Open winner Raphael Jacquelin are playing, too.

They are 21st-ranked Alvaro Quiros and fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who doubles up as tournament promoter and admits that it makes life harder for him.

"It has been impossible to concentrate and practice for the last three months -- too many phone calls and meetings, trying to find sponsors in a difficult financial climate," Jimenez said. "The most difficult part is to do so many things around the event -- the media requirements, dinners, meetings with sponsors, politicians, making the players welcome.

"My mind tends to be all over the place and it comes as a relief when you get onto the first tee and you can then focus on your game,” he added. "I am what I am thanks to golf and this is the way of giving back to Andalucia what I have achieved in 23 years on the European Tour.

"Golf in Andalucia is much more than just a sport,” he said. “It has become an industry and, although we are going through difficult times, it generates many employees."

Despite finishing next to last in his most recent start -- and suffering an ankle injury -- Quiros finds himself the favorite this week.

The 28-year-old big-hitter ended up with only Jeff Overton behind him at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami two weeks ago, and on 8 over par finished 25 shots behind winner Nick Watney.

His ankle problem led to him withdrawing from last week's PGA Tour event, but he wanted to show his support for Jimenez and hopes to prove he can be a contender at the up coming Masters. Two trips to Augusta National so far have produced two missed cuts, but at least he failed by only three last April compared to eight on his 2009 debut.

Winner of the Dubai Desert Classic last month, Quiros thinks the Masters still offers him his best chance to become a major champion.

"Most of the time you need to hit the ball high to stop it on the greens and I think length is a good advantage," he said. "The Open is a golf tournament that I love, but most of the time you play under bad weather conditions and you really need to hit the ball low.

"The U.S. Open has heavy rough. That is not a good sign for me. And the PGA Championship depends what kind of courses we play,” he added. "But if you want to become a good player you really need to play well everywhere, so I'm not going to close any door.

"I want to think that I'm going to be able to be in contention in any of the majors."