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Gallacher 'showed enough heart in Italy to be on European team', says McIlroy

The campaign for selection roars on.

Rory McIlroy, whose 70 left him short of another title in Boston, believes Stephen Gallacher would be an excellent Ryder Cup pick. Picture: Getty
Rory McIlroy, whose 70 left him short of another title in Boston, believes Stephen Gallacher would be an excellent Ryder Cup pick. Picture: Getty

Rory McIlroy spearheaded a wave of player support that helped secure the Ryder Cup captaincy for Paul McGinley last year and the world No.1 is now leading a push to have Stephen Gallacher installed as a wild card pick for this month's match.

McGinley will to name his three captain's picks at Wentworth today and McIlroy, like many players on the tour, delivered another ringing endorsement of Gallacher's Gleneagles credentials.

The Scot agonisingly missed out on the last automatic place after taking a share of third place in the final counting event in Italy at the weekend but McIlroy, the reigning Open and US PGA champion, is confident that Gallacher will get the nod from McGinley for the right to take on the USA in front of a home crowd.

"Stephen deserved a pick even before what happened in Italy as he's just played well the past couple of years," said McIlroy ahead of his final round in the Deutsche Bank Championship last night. "He's won before at Gleneagles and he showed form this year in winning again in Dubai.

"Even though he fell a shot short in Turin, he still shot a 65 and he showed more than enough heart over there in Italy to be on a European team. So I would like to see him on the team and whether that makes a difference I don't know, but I think I share the views of a lot of those already on the side. Besides, being a Scot, playing on home soil and with all the Scottish supporters he can expect enormous support and that has to be a huge advantage to the team."

The emotional rollercoaster of Gallacher's qualifying campaign has left Scottish golf enthusiasts on tenterhooks as they hope for a home player to support in the first Ryder Cup in the home of golf since 1973. "If McGinley doesn't pick Gallacher I can't see him being a well-liked European team captain," suggested Russell Knox, the Inverness exile and PGA Tour player, as he whipped up the patriotic fervour.

Graeme McDowell, the Northern Irishman who held on to that final automatic qualifying spot, continued to beat the drum for Gallacher. "To me, Stephen is somebody who would bring a lot to a Ryder Cup team," said the former US Open champion, whose challenge faded last night at the Deutsche Bank Championship as he finished with a one-under-par round of 70, with Chris Kirk winning by two shots on 15 under. "He's a big hitter, he's upbeat and a positive personality. As far as being a rookie, he wouldn't be a problem.

"So if I was captain Paul McGinley, I'd be thinking long and hard about putting him on the team as he would bring a lot to the dynamic of the side."

As McGinley mulled over the most difficult decision of his captaincy thus far, Colin Montgomerie, Europe's great Ryder Cup talisman and the winning captain at Celtic Manor in 2010, weighed in with his support for his compatriot Gallacher.

"Gallacher fought until the last minute to get there," said Monty, fresh from a 10-shot romp to victory on the European Senior Tour at Woburn on Sunday. "He is the most improved player on the European Tour over the last couple of years on our tour. That's the kind of form Paul has been talking about.

"Gallacher strikes the ball as well as anyone and Gleneagles will suit him. Around a long, wet golf course he is as good as any."

The last word in this 'back Stephen Gallacher' campaign came, fittingly, from his uncle Bernard, another former Ryder Cup skipper. "I'd pick Stephen," declared Gallacher as he proudly flew the family flag. "His current form is terrific, he's Scottish, which will go down well, and he's played well on that course. I think he has also demonstrated a determination to be at Gleneagles and that's why so many people in the game have been commentating on his performance on Sunday as he was so much under the cosh.

"It would have been easy for him to have had a mediocre round on Sunday and used the pressure he was under as an excuse, but he dug in and showed real determination."

The pressure is now on McGinley.

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