Ryder Cup: Stephen Gallacher eyes Graeme McDowell spot

Ryder Cup hopeful Stephen Gallacher plays a shot during his second round at the Czech Masters

Stephen Gallacher needs to win or come second at this week's Italian Open to qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team.

The Scot, nephew of three-time captain Bernard Gallacher, can dislodge Graeme McDowell from the last qualifying spot.

"As long as I have that target in mind and is still mathematically possible then that's all I am really going to be focusing on," said Gallacher, 39.

Should he finish any lower, he will vie with Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald for a wildcard.

Lying 10th in the standings, one position out of the automatic qualifying spots, Gallacher can oust the US-based McDowell after the Northern Irishman opted not to play in the final qualifying event in Italy this week after his wife gave birth to their first child.

* US top nine confirmed, with three wildcards to be named on 3 September* Europe's nine automatic qualifiers confirmed after Italian Open on Sunday*European captain Paul McGinley to pick three wildcards on 2 September
1Bubba WatsonRory McIlroy (NI)
2Rickie FowlerHenrik Stenson (Swe)
3Jim FurykVictor Dubuisson (Fra)
4Jimmy WalkerJamie Donaldson (Wal)
5Phil MickelsonSergio Garcia (Spa)
6Matt KucharThomas Bjorn (Den)
7Jordan SpiethJustin Rose (Eng)
8Patrick ReedMartin Kaymer (Ger)
9Zach JohnsonGraeme McDowell (NI)

Gallacher, who has never played in the biennial contest against the USA, has won three European Tour events this season and also has five top-10 finishes.

"I am trying to prepare to win the same way I would any other week," said world number 34 Gallacher, who lives only 35 miles from the Ryder Cup venue at Gleneagles in Perthshire.

"There are a few ways to handle the pressure I suppose and I am going with the fact that it's an exciting position to be in and an exciting time.

"There are a lot of things on my mind and 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 dreamt about my whole life."

Europe captain Paul McGinley on his wildcard dilemma
"We will spend all day on Monday discussing it and then we will watch the golf from America and make our announcement on Tuesday."

English Ryder Cup veterans Westwood, Poulter and Donald are outside the qualifying positions and will have to rely on a pick from captain Paul McGinley next Tuesday.

Poulter, the star of the 2012 match at Medinah, and fellow four-time Cup competitor Donald will have one final chance to impress at this week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the second leg of the PGA Tour's end-of-season FedEx Cup play-offs.

Westwood, meanwhile, will have to hope his experience of eight Ryder Cups will be enough to convince the skipper, while former US Open champion McDowell, who holed the winning putt in 2010, might also need McGinley's pick to line up for a fourth cap.

McGinley, 47, who is captaining Europe for the first time after three appearances as a player, is looking for wildcard hopefuls in Italy and Boston to "burst over the line" this week.

"If something spectacular happens either here [in Italy] or in America this week then I will consider it," he said.

"It will be tough but I am not alone because I have two very experienced vice-captains in Des Smyth and Sam Torrance who are there to help me.

"We will spend all day on Monday discussing it and then we will watch the golf from America and make our announcement on Tuesday."

The Italian Open begins in Turin on Thursday, while the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston runs from Friday to Monday.

Top Stories