Molinari makes case for Ryder selection

Stephen Gallacher is the only player who controls his Ryder Cup destiny, but it was Francesco Molinari who did most to boost his chances of making the European team in the Italian Open.

Molinari makes case for Ryder selection

On the course where he started playing golf aged eight, Molinari carded a flawless six-under-par 66 at Circolo Golf Torino to share the lead with Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.

And that meant Gallacher, who needs to finish in the top two to overtake Graeme McDowell and claim the final automatic qualifying place, found himself six shots off the pace following an erratic opening 72.

European captain Paul McGinley admitted Molinari is “very much in my mind” for one of the three wild cards he will announce on Tuesday.

Gallacher headed straight to the range after a round featuring four birdies and four bogeys, the 39-year-old Scot squandering a good start after almost holing his approach to his second hole of the day.

McGinley said that even if nothing significant happened this week he had not settled upon his three wild cards, with five — thought to be Gallacher, Molinari, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood — the favourites.

Wiesberger and Molinari enjoyed a one-shot lead over American John Hahn, Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, England’s Richard Bland and South African Hennie Otto.

Meanwhile, when Rory McIlroy steps out onto Gleneagles next month he would have competed over eight of the prior 10 weeks since he was last in Scotland. However, the World No. 1 dosed any burn out fears ahead of the Ryder Cup declaring to European Captain Paul McGinley ‘put me in every Gleneagles match’.

McIlroy will tee up later today in the opening round of the $8m Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston and the second of the four FedEx Cup Play-Off Series events.

This week marks McIlroy’s sixth event since contesting the Scottish Open seven weeks ago while the four-time Major winner has also been just as busy off the course including spending last Monday court side at Flushing Meadow supporting Andy Murray in his US Open.

A day later McIlroy savoured a three-hour lunch at Sag Harbor on Long Island with former US President Bill Clinton, and with the now 68-year old enthralling McIlroy with tales of his White House dealings with the likes of Russian leader Vladamir Putin and Yasser Arafat.

McIlroy then played a social game Tuesday at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island and venue for the 2018 US Open, getting the better of manager Sean O’Flaherty 2 & 1 before tackling his caddy J P Fitzgerald in a social match on Wednesday at Sabonek where McIlroy is a member.

But then McIlroy played down any tiredness concern on the eve of the Boston event he captured two years ago. McIlroy will play the opening two rounds in the company of Americans Jimmy Walker and Hunter Mahan.

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