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BELEK Turkey (Reuters) - Nothing in Edoardo Molinari's career has come close to matching the experience of playing in the Ryder Cup with brother Francesco and, after an awful spell with injury, the Italian is daring to dream again.
Edoardo enjoyed a stunning season in 2010, winning two tournaments in Scotland and making his debut in the biennial team event as Colin Montgomerie's Europe triumphed at the Celtic Manor course in Wales.
He struggled to repeat that form in 2011 and his golf was then badly affected by two operations on his wrist.
The elder of the two siblings has shown encouraging consistency this term and believes a Ryder Cup return for him and his brother is not as far-fetched a prospect now as it seemed two years ago.
"This has probably been the second best season of my career," Edoardo told Reuters in an interview after posting a five-under-par 67 in the opening round of the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open on Thursday.
"Considering I'm coming off two surgeries on the hand I have to say it's been a very good year and overall I'm very satisfied."
The 33-year-old from Turin is 31st on Europe's money list, one place higher than his brother, after stringing together five top-10 finishes including second place at the Irish Open in June.
Edoardo was down in 305th position in the world rankings last year but, not satisfied with having clambered his way back up to number 98, he is aiming much higher.
"Ideally I would like to be in the top 25 so I can get into all the top tournaments and not have to look at the rankings every week," he said after finishing four strokes behind first-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez.
"Step by step I think I can get back to where I was. The last three to four months have been fantastic fitness wise.
"Earlier in the year I was feeling a bit sore, a bit tight, but now I feel very good," added Edoardo.
"I haven't felt any pain, any soreness, for a few months now. The hand is holding up well and now it's more a case of getting the confidence back."
Edoardo said he watched Europe's 16 1/2 points to 11 1/2 victory over the U.S. in September on television and it only served to increase his motivation to return to the Ryder Cup fold.
"It's always great fun to watch but at the same time when you've played in the Ryder Cup before and you miss out, there are always mixed feelings," he said.
"It spurs you on to work and practice even harder to try to make it back on the team because it is such a fantastic experience.
"Hopefully, one day Francesco and I can play together again in the team. That was definitely the highlight of both our careers so far and I think we can do it again," said Edoardo.
Editing by Ed Osmond