Stephen Gallacher (pictured by Getty Images) knows his 2014 Ryder Cup destiny is in his own hands at The 71° OPEN D’ITALIA Presented by DAMIANI this week.
The Scot needs to win or finish runner-up alongside no more than one other player at the Circolo Golf Torino – La Mandria to leapfrog Graeme McDowell and secure the final automatic spot on the European team for the event taking place in his homeland at Gleneagles next month.
The 39 year old is in high spirits after finishing in a share for seventh at the D+D REAL Czech Masters, where Welshman Jamie Donaldson confirmed his place in Paul McGinley’s team with victory.
While Gallacher is the only man who can affect the nine automatic qualifying places available to the European Team, Italy’s Francesco Molinari – playing at the course he grew up on this week – and Dutchman Joost Luiten are among the main contenders looking to secure victory in Italy to try and force their way into McGinley’s mind for one of the three Captain’s Picks available to the Irishman which he will announce next Tuesday.
McGinley is playing the tournament this week after a two month injury lay-off.
Key player quotes
Stephen Gallacher: “There are a lot of things on my mind this week. The most difficult thing for me this week is trying to focus just on the golf. If I play well and finish in the top two then I am a Ryder Cup player and that is something that I have dreamed about my whole life.
“It’s quite funny that everyone’s asking if am nervous about the week ahead but the best place for me to be at the moment is on the golf course. That is where I can think about my next shot and my processes and block the other stuff out. It is when you come off the course that you just cannot escape it.
“Everyone wants to ask about The Ryder Cup, or talk to you about it or just wish you all the best which is all great but, as I said, it makes it very difficult to get it out of your mind which is what a part of you wants to do. But the whole thing is really exciting for me – that is the main feeling I have. To be a Scotsman who lives 35 miles from Gleneagles trying to get into the team brings a lot of hope and expectation and pressure, but most of all it is an exciting week for me.”
Paul McGinley: “It’s a big event and a big week for so many people. It’s an exciting week. I have been in this situation before, going into the last calendar event in 2004, where I was I think just outside the team. I think I may have been 11th place with Frederik Jacobson just ahead of me. We had a race to the finish line right until the last day. We were drawn together on the last day and I think I finished in the top five of the tournament and edged just ahead of Freddie. I then went on to play what I considered to be my best Ryder Cup in 2004.
“I can understand the pressure the guys are under. I can relate to it. There is no doubt that the performance I had in Munich in 2004 that pushed myself over the line was a huge psychological boost for me. It was one of the reasons why I believed I played so well. There is an opportunity for the guys that are here this week to do something similar.
“To play well in the last counting event, with the spotlight on you, will be huge for them. If not making the team, then it’s certainly useful in terms of making an impression.”
Source: European Tour