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Gallacher knows he needs top-two finish: Now on to Italy . . .

STEPHEN GALLACHER must finish inside the top two in this weekend's Italian Open if he

Stephen Gallacher can seal Ryder Cup spot with top-two finish
Stephen Gallacher can seal Ryder Cup spot with top-two finish

STEPHEN GALLACHER must finish inside the top two in this weekend's Italian Open if he

is to qualify automatically for the Ryder Cup team in Gleneagles.

Graeme McDowell, the man he can displace at ninth in the world rankings, should become a father

for the first time later today, and

will not be competing in Turin.

Last night, the Northern Irishman sportingly wished the Scot well in his quest to oust him from the team.

McDowell might have slammed the door shut on Gallacher with a strong showing in the PGA Tour's Barclays Championship, the final qualifying event for the European players competing in the USA.

His final-round 72 for an eventual share of 40th place in Paramus,

New Jersey has presented Gallacher with the opportunity to qualify automatically for next month's event.

"I hope Stevie goes to Italy and does the job as that will throw the cat among the pigeons but then he's had a great year," said McDowell.

"And with the Ryder Cup being

in Scotland I certainly would not begrudge him a spot in the team

so whatever happens, happens.

"I've not put enough world ranking points on the board this week but it's been a good summer, and I've done my part and I'm sure Paul is aware of that but that's

my Ryder Cup qualifying run is over.

"I will be flying to Colorado for the Barclays Championship when Paul announces his three picks and while I am hoping to be a part of a fourth Ryder Cup team, I wish Stephen Gallacher well this week in Italy.

"I hope he gives it a shot and

he would be a great addition to the team in Scotland, but then as I said

it would certainly make the picks

a little more interesting."

While the hunt for European places continued apace, American Hunter Mahan could afford the luxury of a bogey at the last as he stormed clear of a congested leaderboard with five birdies in the last eight holes to claim his sixth PGA Tour victory by two shots at The Barclays.

A stroke off the pace heading into the final round, Mahan sparked his run by knocking in a five-footer at the par-four 11th and effectively sealed the win at the par-five 17th, where he holed a 22-foot putt from above the hole.

In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, Gallacher could not catch the eventual winner, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, at the D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague, finishing in a share of seventh. "The week went pretty well - bit disappointed with today, I didn't really play that well," said Gallacher, "but top 10 if

you're not firing is quite good."

The victory is Donaldson's third European Tour title, sealing him

a spot in the Gleneagles team, and

he savoured the moment afterwards, adding: "Winning is everything: wins shoot you up world rankings, Race To Dubai, all sorts. It's massive - those three last holes coming

in there were really tough with

the wind blowing, so I'm just

really happy to seal it.

"It's so difficult to get into the team, the lads are playing so well. You know that you have to play

well to secure your place and

it did come down to the wire."

Back in New Jersey, Russell Knox was particularly hard on himself

in bogeying his closing two holes

on the final day of the Barclays.

He had been as high as six under par after two rounds of the Play-Off Series events but slumped to post weekend rounds of 74 and 71 for

a three-under-par tally. "I've got to improve," he said. "I'm not good enough yet, and when you finish

the way I did out there, you just

feel you're pathetic at this game."

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