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Teen Manassero boosts Masters hopes

updated 2:48 PM EDT, Sat March 17, 2012
Teenager Matteo Manassero needs victory in Marbella on Sunday to improve his world ranking ahead of the Masters cutoff.
Teenager Matteo Manassero needs victory in Marbella on Sunday to improve his world ranking ahead of the Masters cutoff.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Italian golfer Matteo Manassero moves up to tie for second at Andalucian Open
  • Teenager is seeking victory as he bids to qualify for the Masters in April
  • He and Simon Khan trail leader Eduardo de la Riva by one shot after three rounds
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez also in contention to be European Tour's oldest winner

(CNN) -- Matteo Manassero boosted his hopes of a second appearance at the Masters on Saturday, as the Italian teenager returned to title contention at the Andalucian Open in Spain with a four-under-par 68.

The 18-year-old went to the golf season's opening major in 2010 as the British Amateur champion, and created history as he made the halfway cut before turning professional and becoming the European Tour's youngest tournament winner.

He missed out last year, but victory this weekend will put the world No. 63 closer to a top-50 berth and automatic qualification for Augusta.

Manassero goes into Sunday's final round in Marbella tied for second with England's Simon Khan, just one shot behind surprise leader Eduardo de la Riva of Spain.

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"I played a better golf from tee to green," Manassero said after bouncing back from Friday's 73, dropping only one shot -- at the par-five 16th hole.

"I made quite an easy 68, if you can say that. It could have easily been a 67 with a five on 16, which is routine. My only bad moment was three-putting 16, which pushed me back nearly two shots. The rest was all good."

"It's good to be up there and give me some chances tomorrow. This course is good for me, I like it, but there are many guys up there, so it's going to be fun tomorrow and I'm happy to be in it."

De la Riva is ranked 610th, and only qualified due to his ranking on the Spanish tour.

But he finished third at last year's Madrid Masters, and on Saturday matched Manassero's 68 to retain the one-stroke lead he held at the halfway stage at 10 under overall.

Khan climbed up the leaderboard with a 66, while tournament promoter Miguel Angel Jimenez was tied for fourth another stroke back with South Africa's Hennie Otto and Englishman David Lynn, who both carded 68.

Jimenez, whose 69 featured an eagle three at 16, is seeking to become the European Tour's oldest winner at the age of 48.

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