Gallacher's Italian Open performance felt at TPC Boston

Stephen Gallacher's strong showing at the Italian Open will be considered as Ryder Cup selections are made.
Stephen Gallacher's strong showing at the Italian Open will be considered as Ryder Cup selections are made. ( Getty Images )

Sunday, August 31, 2014

NORTON, Mass. – Will a Scotsman play in the first Ryder Cup to visit Scotland since 1973? That’s now in the hands of European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.

Stephen Gallacher, a born and bred Scotsman, could have taken all the drama out, but his final-round, 7-under 65 left him one shot out of second place at the Italian Open. Englishman David Howell moved from seventh to solo second at 18 under after shooting a 9-under 63.

Gallacher needed to finish in second with no more than one other player to gain his spot on the team, but in the end came up just 1.61 points short of Graeme McDowell for the ninth and final automatic spot on McGinley’s team.

The Scot’s third-place finish and its consequences could be felt thousands of miles away in Norton, Mass., at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Englishmen Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, both of whom are competing at TPC Boston, are also in the hunt for one of the picks that Gallacher is coveting.

Poulter was unwilling to speak about Gallacher’s performance, saying only, “I need a pick as well.” He left it at that.

Both World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and fellow Ryder Cup teammate Henrik Stenson watched the final round of the Italian Open on television Sunday morning.

McIlroy said he was impressed with Gallacher’s performance, calling is a "great effort," but Stenson was even more effusive regarding Gallacher’s performance.

“It would be very hard not to look at the performance he threw in there,” Stenson said of Gallacher’s final round. “He's been chasing that all summer long, and of course it's a bit hard to come up a couple of World Ranking points short the last week, but he had to deliver and he delivered, and someone else just threw an even better score in there just to make him come up one shot shy in the end.

“I don't really want to get into throwing too much in there. But I mean, it would be hard not to say that he has to be right in the mix for getting a pick with those performances.”

Gallacher has made a strong case for himself with a victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in early February and then seven additional top 10s, including a runner-up finish at the Nordea Masters in June and then consecutive top 10s in the Czech Republic and Italy the last two weeks.

“His performance this week will be very strongly in his favor when it comes to making the picks,” McGinley said about Gallacher after the final round of the Italian Open. “But there’s a lot of emotion around here at the moment and let’s just put a little bit of cold water on it at the moment, there’s a lot of stats to be looked at, a lot of players to be looked at, there’s still golf going on in America which is going to be influential in terms of the picks as well, too.”

Poulter shot 71 Sunday, and is tied for 37th. He has avoided Ryder Cup talk most of the week. Donald got off to a nice start at TPC Boston (2-under 69), but the last two days has struggled, shooting 74-74.

After Donald missed the cut at The Barclays last week, McGinley told him to try to have some fun. It hasn’t been easy. There’s a lot at stake, with McGinley scheduled to make his three picks early Tuesday.