Gallacher won’t rely on Ryder wild card

Stephen Gallacher underperformed in Bulgaria last week. Picture: Getty
Stephen Gallacher underperformed in Bulgaria last week. Picture: Getty
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LOTHIANS star Stephen Gallacher reckons Paul McGinley’s wild-card change for next year’s Ryder Cup has made it harder for him to get in the team for Gleneagles.

The European captain has increased his selections from two to three by trimming the automatic spots off a European points list to four.

Along with his fellow Scots on both the European and PGA Tours, Gallacher is desperate to play for McGinley when the biennial event returns to the home of golf for the first time in over 40 years.

But he believes he is more likely to have to secure an automatic spot as the wild cards will probably go to players with Ryder Cup experience.

“I think it’s hard for any captain to pick a rookie,” said the Dubai Desert Classic champion on the eve of the Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, at Wentworth.

“I think they’ve really got to go to guys who’ve got experience of a Ryder Cup.

“Everyone wants to be on that team but I think I’m going to have to try and qualify automatically rather than relying on a pick.”

All 12 members of last year’s winning team at Medinah were reunited at last night’s Players’ Dinner at Heathrow.

They were also set to play in this week’s big-money event until Sweden’s Peter Hanson withdrew due to injury.

But Gallacher said it was a tremendous boost to see the Chicago heroes showing their support for the European Tour, especially as most of them now live in America and play mainly on the PGA Tour.

“This is the fifth major for our tour and I think it’s brilliant all 12 players from the team in Medinah have been here this week,” he added.

“It shows how much esteem they still hold for our Tour and it’s great for guys like myself to see that.”

Gallacher’s debut in last week’s Volvo Match Play Championship ended prematurely in Bulgaria as he bowed out after the round-robin phase.

In both his matches – against Chris Wood and eventual winner Graeme McDowell – he left himself with mountains to climb after falling well behind early on at Thracian Cliffs.

“I struggled a bit, to be honest,” he admitted. “I maybe put myself under a bit too much pressure by letting other things get in the way.

“There are so many things that are new to me at the moment, like playing in the World Match Play for the first time, and maybe I’m just trying too hard at times.

“Once I was four down last week I started to relax and managed to get back into both games but had just given myself too much to claw back on both occasions.

“Against Graeme I had a 12-footer to go level after being four down so I suppose that should give me confidence, especially as he went on to win it.

“But it was a good experience and I want to get back there next year.

“It was a spectacular golf course and a really great venue for the tournament. It was especially good for match-play – probably one of the best for that you’re ever likely to come across.”

World No 2 Rory McIlroy heads this week’s star-studded line-up, which also includes Open champion Ernie Els and Luke Donald, bidding to match Colin Montgomerie’s feat of winning the Wentworth event three years in a row.

“I’ve not done overly well here over the years but did finish fourth on one occasion and I certainly like the new layout,” said Gallacher of changes made in recent years by Els.

“I don’t want to build up my expectations too high. I just want to go out there this week and play my own game.”

Joining Gallacher and the rest of Scotland’s European Tour contingent this week is Edinburgh-based Welshman Gareth Weight.

He earned his spot in the field through last season’s PGA Play-Offs.

“It’s Europe’s flagship event and is going to be the strongest field that you are going to play outside of the majors so it’s going to be exciting to go up against the likes of Rory Mcllroy,” said Wright.

“The immediate target is to make the cut and then there is the prospect of maybe getting a big draw if you can get into the weekend.

“If I play like I did in winning last year’s Glenmuir Club Pros Championship then I stand every chance of doing okay.”