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Matteo Manassero making a Masters push in Spain

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Matteo Manassero / Getty Images

When you're a professional golfer, it doesn't take a lot to get motivated for a tournament. With the money these guys play for on a weekly basis, just one glance at the winner's check is reason enough to bring your best to the course every week.

But for a few guys each year, the money takes a back seat to another motivating factor -- that, of course, being the first major of the year at Augusta National.

Every player wants a spot in the Masters field, but unless you're currently sitting inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, fall under specific criteria or have a special exemption, you'll most likely be watching the tournament from the comfort of your couch like every other golf fan.

Matteo Manassero could be on his couch for the Masters, but he's certainly trying his best to make one last push in an effort to punch his ticket to Augusta. Currently sitting at No. 63 in the most recent OWGR, the Italian teen needs a win and a big finish in Morocco to get inside the top 50, and through one round in Spain at the European Tour's Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol, it looks like he's headed in the right direction.

The 18-year-old had nine birdies and just one bogey on Thursday during a near-perfect round of golf that saw him fire a course record 8-under 64 to take a three-shot lead after one day. Another couple of rounds like that and he'll be packing his bags to fly stateside.

Like Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa, the kid from Italy is an incredibly special talent. He already has two European Tour wins -- including holding off McIlroy at the Maybank Malaysian Open -- and looks primed to possibly add another win in 2012.

The last time Manassero was at the Masters was back in 2010, when he played as an amateur and finished T-36. After getting a taste of Augusta as an amateur, you can imagine he's ready to come back and actually cash a paycheck this time. He may get that opportunity he if wins this week in Spain.

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