I’m biased. Let’s just get that out in the open air before we begin. Despite that, it is near on impossible for Paul McGinley not to pick Stephen Gallacher tomorrow as one of his three wild cards for Gleneagles.
Gallacher came within a whisker of making the 12-man European side automatically at yesterday’s Italian Open, finishing with a final round seven-under 65. An opening nine holes of six-under, 30 blows, should have been enough to convince McGinley that this is a guy who thrives under pressure. In his last two events, the Scot has thrown in 39 birdies. Birdies win holes at Ryder Cups.
McGinley admitted last week that he wants players to railroad their way over the line, to throw themselves into contention for a pick. Stephen Gallacher, despite coming up one shot short, did just that.
In the running with Stephen Gallacher
Standing in Gallacher’s way are, in all likelihood, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. The latter had a poor summer, missing the cut at the US Open and Open but found some form at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational – he shot 63 in the final round to tie for 19th – and closed with a 69 for a joint 15th placing at the PGA Championship at Valhalla. He failed to progress at the FedEx Cup and won’t have played for a month by the time the Ryder Cup rolls round. He’s also got some serious weightage in the bag in terms of Ryder Cup pedigree.
Donald missed the cut last week at the Barclays and has been searching for some form for some time. He’s only had three top-tens all season… but he’s never lost a Ryder Cup and has a perfect record playing alongside Sergio Garcia, who’s already made the side.
"You could toss a coin between Donald and Westwood."
Ian Poulter gets the nod because he’s Team Europe’s ‘Postman’ and McGinely told this magazine last year that he knows the value of what Poulter brings to the dressing room. That’s something the Irishman will want at the team room. I can’t see Poulter not getting a pick.
Today, McGinley and his assistants, Sam Torrance and Des Smyth, will mull over who to pick, not necessarily who to drop. For me, Gallacher is a pick, and so is Poulter. To be honest, you could toss a coin between Donald and Westwood. My gut feeling is he’ll pick Westwood. Thankfully it’s his decision and not mine.