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Big names looking for end of season titles

Two of Spain's top players go into the Madrid Open, which starts on Thursday, aiming to stay in the top 60 in the European Tour money list to seal their places in next week's end-of-season Volvo Masters.

Sergio Garcia, having already missed out on the U.S. Tour Championship, lies 58th on the European money list, while Jose Maria Olazabal's disappointing late collapse at the Turespana Mallorca Classic last week only saw him move to 55th.

Garcia said on Wednesday he had written off this season due to making swing changes, but the 23-year-old Spaniard wants to at least play in Europe's high profile event next week.

"If I had to write the year off, then that's the way it is," said Garcia.

"I just had to look at the big picture and overall I'm going to become a better player, that's why I took the challenge.

"But I want to play Valderrama and this week I'll be trying to secure my place."

Olazabal is trying to put his misery in Mallorca, when he dropped three shots over the final two holes at Pula to hand the title by a stroke to compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez, behind him to go on and claim his place at Valderrama.

"A bad swing at a crucial moment cost me the tournament," said Olazabal. "Now I have to forget and think about this week -- and next.

"A lot things will have to go against me to lose my Valderrama place, like the ones behind me finishing one, two, three, four, or something, but it's a possibility, so I have to play well.

"I still don't have all the answers to my swing problems, though, and Madrid has always resisted me."

World number nine Padraig Harrington may not be the threat he has been at the hosting Club de Campo course in the past.

The Irish winner of the 1996 Spanish and 2000 Madrid titles at the course, complete with a new 'waggle' that gives him a more rhythmic routine instead of stalling his swing, is using his last seven events this year to prepare for next season.

But Harrington can still finish second on the money list if he claims the final two titles.

Nick Faldo resumes his quest for a 12th Ryder Cup appearance, while fellow British major winner Sandy Lyle makes a last-ditch attempt to keep his tour card instead of relying on invitations for next year.

Faldo sealed his Ryder Cup debut on his first attempt at this week's hosting course, then called Hipica Espanola, in 1977 by earning 1,500 pounds ($2,532) for third place in the Madrid Open.

"It all started for me then in the Ryder Cup," said Faldo, "and I hope it will mean as much this week."

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