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Gallacher six back in final Ryder Cup audition

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Stephen Gallacher’s 11th-hour bid for a Ryder Cup berth got off to a pedestrian start Thursday, as he carded an even-par 72 at the European Tour’s Italian Open. That left him six shots off the early pace in Turin.

“I’m a bit disappointed,” he told reporters afterward, “because I threw away a couple of shots midway through my round, but I’ll hit a few balls this afternoon and iron a few things out. It’s OK for the first day, and I am only one good score away from the top of the leaderboard.”

The most interested observer this week likely is Graeme McDowell


Italian Open full-field scores


Gallacher is the only player capable of moving into the top 9 in Ryder Cup qualifying, but he needs to finish first or second this week. If he does, that would knock out McDowell, who is skipping the Deutsche Bank Championship to be with his wife and newborn daughter. McDowell, of course, would then be a no-brainer choice for one of captain Paul McGinley’s three wild-card spots.

Gallacher is an intriguing candidate for McGinley. The Scotsman lives about 40 kilometers from Gleneagles, and he lost in a playoff there at last year’s Johnny Walker Championship. Ranked 34th in the world, he won the Dubai Desert Classic and five other top-10 finishes, including at last week’s Czech Masters.

Both McGinley and Tom Watson will reveal their three captain's picks on Tuesday night.