Alejandro Canizares May Be PGA Tour-bound (Golfweek, Sept. 1, 2006)

Sept. 4, 2006

By ALISTAIR TAIT, Senior Writer, Golfweek (published Sept. 1, 2006)

MUNICH, Germany - Former Arizona State star Alejandro Canizares may spend less time on the European Tour than he planned, and less than European Tour officials would have hoped for.

Canizares is thinking of trying for his PGA Tour card later this year. The 2003 NCAA champion revealed his intention following a second-round 65 Sept. 1 that put him in contention for his second consecutive European Tour win in his fledgling pro career. He's at 8-under 136, one shot behind leader Martin Erlandsson at Golfclub Munchen Nord in Munich, Germany.

Canizares set a European Tour record in Moscow two weeks ago when he won the Russian Open in just his third professional start. The 23-year-old broke Graeme McDowell's previous record. McDowell, a Haskins Award winner at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, won the 2002 Scandinavian Masters in just his fourth professional start.

Canizares earned a two-year exemption for his Russian victory, meaning he can have a free run at his PGA Tour card. After spending four years at Arizona State and winning six times in his collegiate career, the PGA Tour would be a natural fit for Canizares.

'I am thinking of going to the PGA Tour (Q-School) later this year,' Canizares said. 'I am seriously thinking about it.'Canizares is currently ranked 237th in the world following his Russian victory. He needs to get inside the top 100 to avoid Q-School's early stages and go straight to the finals in La Quinta, Calif. from November 29-December 4.

'Making the top 100 in the world is my goal for the rest of the year. Obviously if I do that then I will go and qualify, but even if I don't there's still a good chance I will try.'

Canizares' last amateur event was the Palmer Cup at Prestwick, where he went 4-0 in helping Europe to a landslide 21 1/2 - 4 1/2 victory over the United States. He failed to qualify for the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, and then finished 71st in his first professional tournament, the Deutsche Bank Players Championship of Europe.

A seventh-place finish followed in the Scandinavian Masters before his surprise win in Russia.

'I've been lucky. I had a great week in Russia and things went my way,' Canizares said. 'I'm confident right now. Good things are happening and everything is going my way. It's a big step from college golf. The competition in college golf is great but out here everybody is a great player, so I was very happy at what happened in Russia.'

Canizares is one of four former Sun Devils to record All-American honors in each of his four college seasons, along with Billy Mayfair, Phil Mickelson, and Todd Demsey. The Spaniard was a first-team selection in 2003, when he won the NCAA individual title as a freshman, and 2006, and earned third-team honors in 2004 and 2005.

'College golf was really helpful because you have to really learn to manage your schedule, wake up early, work out and do the things you have to do to be a professional,' Canizares said. 'Plus the golf courses are great and the competition is great.'

Canizares would help his top-100 cause with a win here, as well as set another European record for the fastest two victories. He is relying on his Russian experience to help him over the weekend.

'The win gave me a lot of confidence on how to manage pressure, how to manage my nerves,' he said. 'You need to stay confident and keep doing what you're doing.'

Canizares' father, Jose Maria, won five times on the European Tour and was a member of the 1989 European Ryder Cup team. Brother Gabriel, 32, is also a professional but has failed to earn his Tour card in seven trips to the European Tour Qualifying School.

It seems safe to say Alejandro looks like becoming the best golfer in the Canizares family. He looks set to make a big impression on the PGA Tour, too, maybe as early as next year

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