sport

Gallacher falls just short

Stephen Gallacher fell just short in his bid to automatically qualify for the Ryder Cup as he finished third at the Italian Open.

The Scotsman needed to win in Turin or finish joint second with just one other player to dislodge Graeme McDowell from the ninth place in the European team for Gleneagles.

In the end he was one shot away from achieving the feat, a final round of 65 seeing him finish behind winner Hennie Otto and David Howell to miss out by the narrowest of margins.

Gallacher will now hope he has impressed Paul McGinley enough to earn one of three wildcard selections; the European captain will announce his picks on Tuesday at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports.

"It was a tall order to finish first or second – I've only had a couple of them in a year. But I'm proud of myself and the way I played," Gallacher told Sky Sports.

"It comes down to someone else's opinion. I wanted to qualify myself to take that away.

"There are four or five guys that are worthy of it, it just depends what Paul sees."

Starting the day in sixth place, four shots back of overnight leader Otto, Gallacher needed just 30 shots to cover the front nine. His blistering start took him up to second place at 16 under par for the tournament, raising the real possibility he could clinch a place in McGinley's side in style by winning the title.

However Howell – who himself played in European successes at the 2004 and 2006 Ryder Cups – threw a spanner in the works for Gallacher by moving past him on the leaderboard.

The pair were locked together on 17 under until Howell sunk a long-range birdie putt at the 15th, moving him one clear with both men having three holes left to play.

Gallacher proved unable to close the gap as his round ended with six straight pars. He stood at the final tee knowing a birdie was required but saw his hopes disappear to the right when he leaked his tee shot into the rough.

His attempt to reach the green found sand and although he was able to get up and down from the bunker to make sure his scorecard finished blemish free, the 39-year-old knew his fate was now out of his hands.

For his part Howell – who signed for a sensational score of 63 – hopes his long-time European Tour colleague still gets the chance to play against the United States at Gleneagles, a course that is just 35 miles from Gallacher's home.

"I really hope Stephen gets a pick," the Englishman said.

"He'd make a fantastic Ryder Cup player. If a captain needs any nudge to realise that someone is in form and can play well under pressure then Stephen has done it over this weekend."