Stephen Gallacher has some powerful voices pulling for him as he sweats over his Ryder Cup fate.
Gallacher’s dream of making his debut in the biennial bout at Gleneagles later this month is now in the hands of European captain Paul McGinley when he names his three wild cards at lunchtime tomorrow.
Needing to finish first or at worst joint-second in the Italian Open to qualify automatically, the 39-year-old Lothians star produced one of the rounds of his life in Turin yesterday.
But Gallacher, pictured, suffered the heartache of finishing third behind winner Hennie Otto of South Africa and England’s David Howell to allow Graeme McDowell to cling on to the last automatic spot.
English trio Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood all need wildcards after coming up short in the qualification process.
But, after jumping Donald to end the year-long qualifying race to finish closest to the nine automatic spots, support is strong for Gallacher to be among the picks McGinley announces tomorrow at Wentworth.
“Go on Stevie Gallacher,” tweeted world No.1 Rory McIlroy as the Bathgate man stormed to the turn in 30 in Turin to hold second before being overtaken by Howell on the back nine.
“Great round by SG,” wrote Westwood on the same social media site, while both McDowell and Howell threw their weight behind Gallacher’s case for a captain’s pick.
“He certainly made a brilliant effort to grab the last automatic qualifying place and only came up a fraction short,” said McDowell, who clinched Europe’s victory in Wales four years ago.
“To me, Stephen is somebody who would bring a lot to a Ryder Cup team. He’s a big hitter, he’s upbeat and a positive personality.
“As far as rookies go, he wouldn’t be a problem. If I was captain Paul McGinley, I’d be thinking long and hard about putting him on the team. I think he would bring a lot to the dynamic of the side.”
Howell, a two-times Ryder Cup player, added: “I think it would be a travesty, a local boy playing so well not to get in.
“I really do hope he gets the pick that I think he deserves because he would make a fantastic Ryder Cup player.
“It was a supreme effort and if a captain needs any indication of a player in form who can play under pressure he has had it this weekend.”
Gallacher had started his second round in Turin 15 shots off the lead and still had six shots to make up on Otto heading into the final circuit. He was also four off taking second spot.
But the two-times Dubai Desert Classic champion birdied six of the first eight holes to be out in 30, at which point he was alone in second and two shots clear of Howell and Dutchman Joost Luiten.
However, while Gallacher could only pick up one more shot on the back nine, Howell birdied the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th to edge ahead and record his best finish since winning the Dunhill Links Championship last September.
“It was a tall order, but I am proud of myself the way I have played,” said Gallacher, who has an excellent record over the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, where Scotland’s first Ryder Cup in more than 40 years takes place at the end of the month.
“I’m delighted with 17 under – it’s just a little short, but there is nothing I can do. When it comes down to someone else’s opinion ... I wanted to qualify myself just to take that away. There are four or five guys orthy [of a wild card] so it’s just what Paul sees.
“At the end of the day I haven’t done enough. We all had the chance of the start of the year and there are nine guys in the team at the moment who have qualified. There are three picks to come and I just hope that I have done enough to get one.
“I gave it my best shot and I hope Paul likes what he sees.”
McGinley vowed to make his selections in a “cold way” as he prepared to sit down today with his two vice-captains, Sam Torrance and Des Smyth, to mull over their options.
On Gallacher, the Irishman said: “His performance this week will be very strongly in his favour when it comes to making the picks,
“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.
“He’s got a lot of things in his favour, but other players do as well and I’ve got to be fair to everybody and do what I feel is best for Europe.
“I like to assess things in a cold way.”