Golf: Cook confident of putting on style: American to make first appearance on the European Tour in Italian Open

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JOHN COOK, the 35-year-old American who came close to winning the Open at Muirfield last year, believes that the Ryder Cup match at The Belfry in September could again go to a final putt.

Cook has already qualified for the United States team for the first time this year and is competing in his first European Tour event at the Lancia Martini Italian Open, which starts at the Modena club today.

'I really felt for Bernard Langer when he made that last putt at Kiawah Island,' Cook said. 'I was happy for our side that we won but I knew how Bernard must have been feeling. The pressure on him was enormous but I wouldn't mind having the chance to be in the same position this year. The last two matches have been so close I'm sure it will be the same again.'

Cook said he does not suffer nightmares when thinking about last year's Open. Indeed, he considers the experience has made him a better player. At Muirfield, he led Nick Faldo by two shots with four holes to play. Faldo birdied the 15th to close to within one and Cook missed a two- foot putt for a birdie at the 17th.

Faldo then birdied the 17th to draw level and Cook made his final mistake when he pushed a two-iron to the right of the 18th green and finished up with a bogey five, leaving Faldo to make par at the last for victory.

Faldo is resting this week but Seve Ballesteros, who has been struggling with back trouble, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Ronan Rafferty, Barry Lane and Steve Richardson, who holed in one at the 153-yard sixth in yesterday's pro-am, should provide tough enough opposition for Cook.

----------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 417 4 10th 548 5 2nd 435 4 11th 157 3 3rd 197 3 12th 416 4 4th 528 5 13th 582 5 5th 381 4 14th 361 4 6th 153 3 15th 223 3 7th 499 5 16th 427 4 8th 349 4 17th 149 3 9th 412 4 18th 501 5 Out: 3,371 36 In: 3,364 36 Total: 6,735 72 -----------------------------------------------------------------