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Graeme McDowell keeps tabs on Stephen Gallacher as Ryder Cup selection looms

The superb efforts of Stephen Gallacher in the D+D REAL Czech Masters are making life uneasy for a number of potential Ryder Cup Europeans competing in New Jersey.

Stephen Gallacher is focused on the final two rounds in the Czech Republic as he chases automatic qualification for Gleneagles. Picture: Getty Images
Stephen Gallacher is focused on the final two rounds in the Czech Republic as he chases automatic qualification for Gleneagles. Picture: Getty Images

The Scot has bounced back after missing the halfway cut in his past two events Stateside and, should he win a second European Tour title this week, he would leap-frog from 11th place overall on the Ryder Cup points table and likely move into ninth spot and thereby into the automatic Gleneagles qualifiers.

If so, it would mean overtaking the 10th-placed Luke Donald and bumping the current ninth-ranked Graeme McDowell back a spot.

Gallacher's position has already been enhanced with Donald certain to miss the Barclays Championship halfway cut after scores of 71 and 74 for a three-over-par total on the Ridgewood Country Club course in Paramus.

Ian Poulter, who is ranked 11th on the points table but almost certain to be given a "pick", will also be cut from the $8m tournament following a pair of 72s.

Gallacher is acutely aware that unless he qualifies automatically for Paul McGinley's team he will unlikely be afforded a wildcard pick given the depth of winning Ryder Cup talent in the form of Miguel Angel Jimenez (13), Francesco Molinari (14) and England's Lee Westwood (16).

McDowell kept his wildcard chances alive with a second-round 68 for a four-under-par tally and just three behind the leading clubhouse trio of Jim Furyk (69), Brendon Todd (69) and Kevin Chappell (67) who head the field on seven-under.

"I was having breakfast this morning and watching TV and seeing what Jamie [Donaldson] and Stephen Gallacher are doing, and it was pretty hard not to ignore," said the player who holed the winning putt for Colin Montgomerie's Europe at Celtic Manor in 2010.

"I didn't realise just how close Stephen was to me on the world ranking points table. What he's doing over there in the Czech Republic now has my attention.

"There is nothing guaranteed when it comes to picks and, if Stephen were to win there, then all of a sudden there is going to be one pick less. That's why making the cut here in New Jersey is big for me.

"I've played really solid the last couple of months, and I'm proud of the way I have played in that time so if it [qualifying automatically for Gleneagles] doesn't happen then it wasn't meant to be.

"But I am very, very quietly confident I will get a pick if I should not make the top-nine," he said. "But then I don't want a pick. I've never had to rely on a pick."

As for the man who has McDowell's undivided attention, his focus for now remains on the final two rounds in the Czech Republic.

"It's there," said Gallacher when asked about his chances of making the Ryder Cup. "It's been there for a while, but this is just another week where you're out there just playing as well as you can. You've got to make as many birdies as possible and contend to win the tournament."

Gallacher's second round of 67 left him just two shots behind Jamie Donaldson, and the Scot admits he is desperate to tee it up on home soil.

"It's the down time when you tend to think about it," he said. "When you fly into Edinburgh airport and there's a sign 100 foot by 100 foot and you live half an hour from it. You know it's there, you've been trying all year to get into it, so it's just a case of trying to do well the next two weeks and see it through."

Starting on the back nine, Donaldson birdied the 12th but gave the shot straight back before picking up another on 17.

Further birdies followed on one, three, four and six before two bogeys took the shine off the round. "It was there for the taking today," he said."

Frenchman Gregory Bourdy was a shot behind Donaldson on eight under after a 67, with Englishmen Lee Slattery, Tommy Fleetwood and Garrick Porteous and American John Hahn alongside Gallacher a further shot back.

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