STEPHEN Gallacher will launch his bid to secure a Ryder Cup berth at the 11th hour in the company of a player who achieved the same feat four years ago.
Edoardo Molinari, who won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in the final qualifying event to be handed a wildcard by Colin Montgomerie for the match at Celtic Manor, is one of Gallacher’s playing partners for the first two rounds of the Italian Open starting on Thursday in Turin.
Another home player, Matteo Manassero, makes up the group as Gallacher bids to secure a top-two finish and snatch the last automatic spot in the side for Gleneagles from Graeme McDowell.
Marc Warren, an outsider for one of the three wildcards after capping a good run of form with victory in the Made in Denmark event a fortnight ago, has, intriguingly, been paired with European captain Paul McGinley.
Francesco Molinari and Joost Luiten, two others still in contention to be picked next Tuesday, have former Open champions Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington respectively in their groups.
“This is the last lap of qualifying and from the World points angle this tournament could make a contribution,” said McGinley, who has Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood now needing picks.
Poulter and Donald are both in the field for the Deutsche Bank Championship starting in Boston on Friday but Westwood is out of the FedEx Cup Play-Offs after just one event.
“I think a lot of what happens with the nine automatic qualifiers determines where you go with your picks,” added the Irishman. “But it’s important that we have players who are on form – which I think the qualification process will provide.
“It’ll identify the leading nine European players throughout the world over a 12-month period and then it’s up to me and my vice captains to complete the jigsaw.”
McGinley added: “Being a Ryder Cup captain, there are good bits of the job and there’s bad bits. And everybody has talked about how difficult it is calling guys, particularly friends of yours, to tell them they haven’t made the team.
“That’s going to be difficult, I know it is. But I’ve been very upfront with them, they know where they stand, and I’ve tried to be very open and transparent with where I was going with the picks and it was up to the players to show me some form and some reason why they should be picked.”