Jamie Donaldson (pictured by Getty Images) and Stephen Gallacher both enter the penultimate week of the race for a place in Paul McGinley’s European team at The 2014 Ryder Cup either side of the cut-off point for automatic qualification, but they are equally focussed on victory at this week’s D+D REAL Czech Masters.
Welshman Donaldson currently lies in eighth position in the Ryder Cup Points list and, while his path to Gleneagles Hotel is not yet secured, a win would certainly be enough to earn the 38 year old a debut at golf’s most prestigious team event.
Gallacher’s fate, meanwhile, is a little more precarious as the Scot attempts to climb from 11th place into the all-important top nine which gain automatic qualification. But strong performances at the pristine Albatross Golf Resort this week and next week’s final counting event, the Italian Open, could well prove enough.
With such a huge amount at stake, however, both players know they have a job on their hands if they are to remain focussed on the immediate task at hand – winning the inaugural D+D REAL Czech Masters.
Key Player quotes
“Things are quite close with The Ryder Cup spots but I just have to take each week at a time. There are two events left and I have to go out here this week and play well, play to win the tournament as I do every week.
“I need to enjoy myself and play well. It’s in the back of your mind but these things can help you. It’s a great target to have and it’s been a target for me for quite a while. You just need to ignore it and get on with the things that make you play well and keep doing those things to enable you to have the best week you can.
“It’s hard to get in the team, whether you were in the List for a while or you’re fighting to get in, it’s difficult whatever angle you’re going at it. You’re playing against the best players in Europe so it’s never going to be easy. You’ve just got to keep playing well all year and it’s as simple at that.
“I’ve had a nice week at home and here we are, playing another event so I’m pretty fresh and looking forward to it.”
“Obviously The Ryder Cup will be in the back of my mind. The hardest thing is just trying to do what you do normally. I’m in a position with two tournaments to go where I can still automatically qualify, which is a great place to be.
“It’s exciting and it’s just a case of trying to do as well as you can at this tournament and prepare to win it. It’s been good golf that got me into this position so the worst thing I can do is try and think of something else.
“I’m just taking it week by week, until it’s done. You’ve got to play your own game. Some tournaments you’ll be more aggressive and others you’ll be more cautious depending on the course lay-out and set-up and the weather, but once I get on the golf course I won’t really think about it much.
“Off the course, it’s just the desire to get there so I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. It is what it is, it’s The Ryder Cup in Scotland and I want to be there so the only way I can do that is by playing well.”
Key facts – D+D REAL Czech Masters
The D+D REAL Czech Masters is the fifth of five new events on The European Tour International Schedule in 2014.
This is the first European Tour event in the Czech Republic since 2011, when Oliver Fisher won the Czech Open.
This is the third D+D REAL-sponsored event in 2014. The first two were on the European Challenge Tour. They are: D+D REAL Czech Challenge and D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge.
The Albatross Golf Resort is hosting a European Tour tournament for the first time.
The European Tour first played a European Tour event in the Czech Republic 1994. Per-Ulrik Johansson won the Czech Open. The tournament continued between 1995-97 and again between 2009-2011.
There are three previous winners of events which took place in the Czech Republic competing. They are: Stephen Gallacher (1998 KB Golf Challenge), Oskar Henningsson (2009 Czech Open) and Oliver Fisher (2011 Czech Open).
Source: European Tour