Stephen Gallacher faces anxious wait over Ryder Cup selection
Scot misses automatic qualification by one shot at Italian Open; Paul McGinley to announce three wild-card picks on Tuesday
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher will have to rely on a wild card to make the European Ryder Cup team after his hopes of automatic qualification were shattered on Sunday despite a superb closing 65 at the Italian Open in Turin.
The 39-year-old needed to win or finish joint second with just one other player to dislodge Graeme McDowell from the ninth and last automatic qualifying place in Paul McGinley’s 12-strong side for Gleneagles.
But despite giving it his best, he came up just short in third place behind South African winner Hennie Otto and England’s David Howell, who putted superbly for a nine-under 63.
Still, Gallacher, the nephew of former European team player and skipper Bernard Gallacher, has hope of making the team as captain McGinley has three wild-card picks to make on Tuesday ahead of the September 26-28 showdown with the Americans.
In that aspect he will likely to come up against former world number ones Lee Westwood and Luke Donald as well as the Ryder Cup hero of two years ago Ian Poulter all of whom failed to make the top nine.
“It was good. I enjoyed it. It’s just a shame I didn’t do well coming in,” said Gallacher.
“The last two weeks were really pressure situations. It was a tall order, but I am proud of myself the way I played.
“There are four or five other guys that are just as worthy of it [wild-card pick].”
Afterwards McGinley, who missed the cut in the tournament, had words of encouragement for Gallacher, despite saying he had yet to finally make up his mind for the three wildcard picks.
“It was a tremendous performance by Stevie today but unfortunately he has come up one short of qualification,” the Irishman said.
“His performance this week will certainly come into account when making the picks. But in the cold light of day I will sit down tomorrow with the vice-captains and assess everything.”
Gallacher trailed leader Otto by six shots and second-placed Richie Ramsay by four at the start of the day, but raced to the turn in a superb 30 at Circolo Golf to massively improve his chances
At 16 under par, Gallacher was in outright second, two behind Otto and in pole position to grab automatic selection to compete at Gleneagles which takes place just 56 kilometres from where he lives.
It all came down to the final few holes with Gallacher duelling with Otto, the fast-charging Howell and compatriot Ramsay for the three podium places.
But while Gallacher parred his way in over the tough closing stretch, Howell sunk a pair of huge birdie putts and Otto scrambled to stay ahead despite some poor tee shots.
It was the second time Otto had won the Italian Open after claiming the crown in 2008.